Reflections on a Wandering Life.....
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Finally got a brainstorm. I have had a terrible time trying to get a sleeper ticket back to Beijing. Getting a train ticket is not that hard, but I am just not interested in sitting for almost 40 hours in a crowed train car. It's just too much. But I found a cheap flight ticket to Harbin. It is quite easy to get a ticket on the high speed Japanese train from Harbin to Beijing. Fortunately, Harbin has a new youth hostel near the old Russian Street. The old Russian street is the street with all the old businesses from the period when the Russian Jews came to Harbin and built this tiny village into a prosperous city. I won't go into too much detail, because I dealt with it at length during my visit here during Spring Festival in January and February of 2009. But just let me say that if you ever have a chance to spend a few days in Harbin, you should not only visit the old Russian street. You should also visit the "new" synagogue (the term "new" is relative--both synagogues are almost a hundred years old) and see the hundreds and hundreds of pictures from that amazing slice of history. The story of the Harbin Jews is a partial sequel to the film "Fiddler on the Roof." That film is a novel, of course, but it is quite true to the period. The end of the movie shows them leaving their little Russian village to go to America. In actual fact, many of the Russian Jews who were harassed by the Czar did not go to America. They went to China. Harbin China. At one time, the mayor of Harbin was from Moscow. Harbin never actually became a part of Russia, because it was in China. But in a sense, it really was part of Russia. Maybe you could say a Russian island in China. Or a Russian Hong Kong.