Reflections on a Wandering Life.....
Saturday, August 03, 2013
When it comes right down to it, there's nothing particularly sensational about this town. The Matryoshka dolls. The lake. Not much else to see. But there's something about this town that most Chinese people wouldn't notice, but which definitely gets my attention. I like Beijing, but as I have said numerous times, the summers in Beijing are really miserable. This town has a very mild summer climate. It's really nice. Warm, balmy days and cool evenings. But there's something else. This town sits right on the border. It's a small town, and not important. But it just happens to be located near a fairly significant port of entry for this end of the Sino-Russian border. So many Russians from neighboring towns just north of here come to Manzhouli to buy cheap Chinese goods. Because of that, the businesses and restaurants all cater to Russians. It would not be accurate to say that there are Russian restaurants here. They are not Russian. They are Chinese restaurants. But they all serve Russian food. Authentic? Well, I suppose if you compare them to a fancy Russian restaurant in Harbin, they may not win any prizes. The Russian restaurant I really like in Harbin serves very authentic Russian food. But it's expensive. Not ghastly, but not cheap, either, and the protions are small. And it's usually crowded. Here, you can walk into any average sized restaurant and find at least a few Russian dishes that are pretty good, and not expensive at all. A hamburger steak and eggs is 18 kuai (about 3 dollars). And the Russian vegeteble salads are delicious. Not just a pile of lettuce. In the afternoon or evening, cream on bread and coffee. This is the only town I have been to in China where you can walk into an average restaurant and get a cup of coffee. Not sensational, but it's not bad, either. So if nothing else, it's a nice place to hang out for a couple weeks and get some work done.