While I did not go to many of the top tourist destinations in China during my year there, I did do some traveling and discovered various places that I would recommend for anyone heading to the Northeast part of China.
- Nanhu Park
Nanhu Park is in the centre of Changchun. I was stunned by the beauty of this park, in the middle of an industrial city. The park was huge – it had several play areas for children, a lovely lake in the middle of the park, an amusement park for smaller kids, and several places to get food.
It was clean, well maintained, and a lovely place to go when I needed to get away from the crowds of people wherever I went in the city. As there are not that many tourist destinations in Changchun, I would definitely recommend coming here. It’s beautiful in the summer and winter!
I went to Harbin specifically to see the Ice and Snow Festival and when I got there, I was surprised to find such a beautiful city! I wasn’t sure what to expect except it being very cold during the day and even colder at night, but to my delight, there was so much to see! A shopping centre close by to get warmer mittens than I had was my first stop.
As I was walking that first day I was there, I saw this church across from my hotel and decided to see what exactly it was. It was surprising to see a church and not a temple. It was formerly a Russian Orthodox Church. The Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God in Harbin, China was built in 1907 and expanded from 1923-32, it was closed during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution periods, and turned into a museum in 1997. I waited for Kiki to arrive, and this was one of our stops during our couple of days in Harbin. It was worth the money to go in and see the beautiful church.
There were so many restaurants to choose from and all were fantastic. Dumplings everywhere! My teacher friends recommended that I try the ice cream in Harbin as it is the best in China, and I would have to agree! It was delicious! Even in -40-degree weather!
- Shenyang Imperial Palace
Of all the places I went to, which weren’t many, Shenyang was my favourite. I did my research before going and my main thing I wanted to do was see the Imperial Palace.
My first day in Shenyang, I headed out early to the palace so I could make sure I got in to see it and to see if there were English speaking people at the ticket booth to help me. To my surprise and absolute delight, as I was waiting in line, a young lady came up behind me and started chatting with me in perfect English. She was a student at the University of Beijing and was taking law. We immediately connected and she ended up being my own personal guide for the day.
She took me through the palace and explained everything about the history of the palace and explained the historical significance of the palace. It was fascinating and I was incredibly lucky to have my own personal guide.
- Former Residence of Zhang Zuolin and Zhang Xueliang.
My tour guide from the palace also included a trip in Shenyang to the residence of Zuolin.She wanted to make sure I saw everything and understood the history of Shenyang. She told me that this was her hometown, and she was excited that she could share all the history with me.
The residence was a beautiful palace with everything being restored to serve as a museum. It was originally built in the 1600’s and was the residence of the famous Zuolin. A top place for my time in China.
- Livon School – Changchun
It may seem strange that I’ve included the place where I taught, however, it’s more than just a school. It’s a cultural experience and look into the future of the Chinese education system.
The school is massive, and it’s only for grades 1 to 8. There were four floors, and two separate sides. The first floor consisted of the cafeteria, gymnasium, auditorium, and the musical and dance classrooms. On the primary side where I taught, there was an open area where the classrooms are located where they had their weekly celebration of the raising of the flag. I was honoured to watch the ceremony each week and to see the pride that all the Chinese students and teachers had for their country. There was no animosity between any of them. Each one showed their pride to their flag and their country.
I realize it is a communist country but at the same time, I believe more countries should show their pride as the Chinese people do. It was a pleasure to have been part of this school. I was treated as an equal at the school and I became a much stronger teacher because of them.