Places We Should Know About (as Americans)

by Noah Haalilio Solomon

In China lies a city called Harbin.  Besides boasting about things like having “black earth” soil, which is one of the most nutritious in the country (world), it is a place of culture-mesh coexistence, the age-old tale of East meeting West; although it is located in China, it is mainly populated by Russians, with Chinese in a close second.

Now, racial diaspora is decently exciting, but when things like linguistic parallels and migratory routes in freezing weather are considered, things get a bit more boggling.  I have no idea about the origins of Russian and Chinese, or generally Slavic and Asian at all; for all I know they could be very fairly contemporaneous and/or adjacent.  I am just saying that when I learn about such places that are so ‘off-the-map’ for me, it’s jarring to think about how these cities were formed, given the clash of culture (political and economic philosophy, language, cuisine, etc.)

It’s very nice, though, when multicultural cities blend well together.  Take the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, for example, where annually, giant colorful ice sculptures wow audiences around the world.  These photos are from the year the festival’s theme was Russian architecture, which is playful enough by itself, but add the motifs of some of  China’s main religions and watch Buddha frolic cheerfully in neon lights and colored fog as night falls in Harbin.

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