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"Moscow of the Orient"

10-11-2011 09:22 BJT

BEIJING, Oct. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- There's more to Harbin than ice sculptures, especially when you visit in autumn, Zhang Zixuan discovers.

My first impressions of Harbin come from the driver who picks us up at the airport. Asked to show his license at a toll booth, he becomes impatient and raises his voice.

But the booth attendant is unfazed. She too raises her voice. The driver finally relents, although he keeps muttering under his breath. The attendant remains unperturbed, but an unmistakable smile slowly forms at the corners of her mouth.

The Russian-style theme park Volga Manor is a major attraction on the outskirts of Harbin. (Source: China Daily/Zhang Zixuan)

"We were joking," the driver says, suddenly aware that his bus load of passengers, especially visitors from abroad, have gone quiet, over the seemingly sharp exchange of words.

There are many signs of this informality typical of people from Northeast China in the provincial capital of Heilongjiang province, making for a lively and vibrant city.


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