In September I spent several days in Manzhouli relaxing and looking about. Although you can fly there from Beijing, my trip was done in a hire car from Arongqi on the eastern border of Inner Mongolia, near QiQihaer (heilongjiang province). Approaching the city by road there is a new and unfinished attraction that takes your breath away....... It is a sculptured herd of about 50 (when finished) life size (all sizes) statues of Wooly Mammoth ... and they are so magically lifelike my grandchildren in Australia gasped when they saw the photos, saying "Wowwww ... they really exist?" Once in the city the cross-cultyral flavor of the border towns really stands out in the buildings and the signs .... and (like lots of places in China) the neon lights have to be seen to be believed. English is not big, because apparently not many of us go there, but I found the locals (especially the Chinese) very happy and friendly people. The city also has a great Memorial Park, dedicated to the Russian people who helped drive out the Japanese occupation forces.
On the way to the National Gate ther are 2 attractions that are a must for every visitor ... one is a Russian Doll Museum/display with giant statues of the famous style while next door there is n interesting Russian style building that is actually a sort of Art Museum..... there are the most fantastic paintings and murals on every wall of the 3 story building that looks like a Russian Church with it's distinctive colour and design, pointy dome structure. I think they are just replicas but incredibly copied. And then there is the Gate ... well I couldn't get inside because I am a foreigner and didn't have a visa to visit Russia ....... but the souvenir shop is almost worth the trip .. with a range of very cool and unique items for sale, from both cultures..... from gemstones to stuffed animals, and a hundred interesting other things. On the hills overlooking the lake area there are a small herd of mammoth as well ..... I think it is a highly underrated destination for Western tourists.
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