London to Hong Kong Part 9 – “Harbin”

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Leaving the farm stay

Our time had come to an end and though I couldn’t wait to continue the journey, I felt somewhat nostalgic when I realised that I would probably never see Vladimir again.

We left at approximately 9am and made our way back to Irkutsk. Vladimir dropped us off at our next destination and he urged the boys to come visit him when they were bigger. I hope they do. I hope they will one day trace the steps we took on this trip and reconnect with Vladimir.

Things to do in Irkutsk with little time

We arrived at a quaint little unit that I found the night before scrolling through Airbnb. It is close to the tram and quite central for a decent price. We paid $72AUD for the night, but you can get it cheaper. The host were extremely accommodating and will help you out with anything you need!

With only had half a day that evening to check out Irkutsk. We had lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets of Irkutsk. I wanted to look for a Russian hat or even some warmer boots that were typically Siberian. We found the
central market in Irkutsk. Lots of produce and meat, which were able to purchase or our next rain journey. Just on the outside of the building though were more shops and small clothing markets.

I found a pair of Siberian boots that seemed to be the fashion and I didn’t waste any time in switching to these. I fitted right in with the locals!

                                                     My Siberian boots

That evening we had dinner at an Argentine Steakhouse and had an early night because the next day we woke up before the crack of dawn (mind you dawn isn’t until at least 9am). I wanted to catch an Uber from the unit to the station, but the argument was that traffic could be bad and it would make us late. Also, we had a tram around the corner of the place and it was more reliable. I didn’t win this argument and so we walked to the tram stop and made our way to the Irkutsk station.

On the tram very early and it’s cold

Waiting at Irkutsk station for our train

now awaiting to board the train

 

Irkutsk to Harbin

We were back on the train, this time for a two-day journey to Harbin. We knew what to expect and this brought about a sense of familiarity and confidence.

 

Goodbye Russia!

We finally arrived to our last Russian town called Zabaykalsk, which is the border town between Russia and Manzhouli, China. Zabaykalsk/Manzhouli is one of the three direct connections between Russian and Chinese Railways.  We had a 6 hour stop over here, so that the train could change over to accommodate to Chinese railway lines.

Zabaykalsk is a small town, with hardly any trees and no high buildings. We walked around and found ourselves in rundown, dry, dusty, pathless streets with dogs in every house barking at us. It wasn’t THE place to spend 6 hours in transit, but it was still very pleasant because the people in the corner shops were extremely friendly. We bought a Bilash for a snack, which is like an empanada with meat inside.

25 minute journey

                               

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Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh Part 3 – “Guangzhou – a city of lights”

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The morning came and went like a whirlwind. Trying to pack everything up again, getting the boys ready and trying to find accommodation for tonight in Guangzhou (yes you read correctly haha). The start to our journey from Hong Kong to Guangzhou by train was just another chaotic morning – only in Hong Kong.

We initially thought that we would catch the metro to Hung Hom station, which is “currently the only station in Hong Kong serving cross-border trains to mainland China” (wiki). We figured that being peak hour it would be a nightmare to catch a taxi that crosses the harbour tunnel.

Thankfully our hotel concierge recommended we take the taxi, as 8am was not quite peak hour and it would take less time to cab it – and cab it we did. This allowed us plenty of time to chase after kids that kept running off; try to calm Mr3 down from his tantrum after taking away his “gukky”(his soft sleep teddy), which he kept throwing around; and keep the two boys from fighting and hitting each other because one called the other a smelly bum-bum. It is moments like these that make travelling with kids so difficult and stressful!  Continue reading

Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh Part 2 – “Hong Kong”

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Hong Kong, a city full of life with friendly people, flavoursome foods and beautiful harbour that gets especially lit during the night and Christmas time. I never tire of this wonderful city. (Click more for photos).

Not much to review about as we didn’t spend a whole lot of time living the backpacker lifestyle here.

On the double decker tram