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Starting a new life


JudithO
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ChTTay you are always so helpful. About the deals, that will be difficult, try to understand them in your own languag sometimes is difficult, but in chinese? That would be a long conversation XDD

 

Last time I bought a card from a street seller, and I don't remember which company or what deal it was XD

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Try to get a phone compatible with China Unicom frequencies if you're planning on keeping your next one.

China Unicom 3G uses the same 3G technology (WCDMA) than the rest of the world. That way, you won't need to change phone when you'll be returning home unless you want 4G connectivity by then.

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That's great about the phones, I think my boss will be helping me get one set up... Hopefully! I'm currently sat in the departure lounge waiting to fly! Agh!

I'll be living in the Daoli district Anne, near the river I think - any advice on this area, like shops etc would be great! Is this near you?

I speak French Judith, but not fluent!

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The phone companies have little booklets with deals. You can usually work out whats what... as it will say something like "400mb" rather than 400 'something chinese'.

 

You could always take away the leaflet and have someone look at it with out at work. That's if no one will go with you in the first place...

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Awesome - I'm going to be there starting the end of January as well... and yes, it is a good time to learn - but it is going to be cold!

 

Anyone have any advice on what to do about banking in Harbin? When I lived in Korea I went ahead and got a bank account there, but that was because I was there for a few years. For about 4 months, is it pretty easy to get by with an international card and atms there? Or is it difficult to find international atms?

 

Thanks

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Thanks all and my apologies if I made it sound like I thought Harbin was going to be a backwards city! Like imron said, I just have heard of people having some difficulty - and then the majority of my friends are from Southern cities. Most of them have nothing nice to say about northern cities, and while I have always assumed it was just them stereotyping, a few things like "You won't be able to get your money there because they won't have international ATMs" have prompted me to ask here and foreigners I know that are there now.

 

It actually probably just makes sense to open a bank account there and send myself a wire, like wallace187 mentions.

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First of all, I'd advice new arrivals check Wikitravel article on Harbin. Some of the info is outdated - especially on night life - but then again where to buy stuff etc. is still valid. Also, both QQ maps and Baidu maps have street view available these days so navigating in Harbin shouldn't be a problem. Bus routes from place a to b can also be checked with those maps. Copy paste an address and you are almost there.

I'll answer a bunch of questions below that I can contribute more info on. Some questions I won't bother with as everything said is already spot on.

is there any foreigner in Harbin that would like to talk with me and be friends?


Sure but meeting others than people on this forum means you have to be brave and get out and socialize. Also, if you're not studying in one of the universities (or going to teach in a language school with other foreign teachers) then perhaps only (easy) places to meet other foreigners will be pubs / nightclubs. These places for example could include the following:

Sky Bar - 南岗区 砖街13号 An English teacher hangout. Has trivia on thursdays which can be a good time to meet people as you could just ask random strangers if you can join their team. A bit "cleaner" than most pubs, non smoking, serves western food and closes early. Underground - 南岗区 曲线街7x号 Also an Enlish teacher and student hangout just around the corner from Sky Bar.

桥南街,a street not far from Sky and Underground, has several pubs and cafes these days. A bit more local flavour but still western style establishments where you should find somebody speaking English. Few places on this street: 大门 The Door (friendly Chinese regulars and an owner who really is the soul of this pub), Blackjack (perhaps the "hottest" of these newish pubs, live music and gets pretty packed during weekends) and Six Pub (a bit loud but other than that pretty nice pub with a mix of Chinese and foreigners). 桥东街 parallelling 桥南街 has dozens of small cafes. Perhaps not as easy to meet people as in establishments that mainly serve alcohol but well, you could always try. All these places are around HIT (Harbin University of Technology) main campus. Wanna go truly local and be the only foreigner? There are two "Chinese style pubs" eastern side of HIT campus at 复华四道街.

And then there are all those night clubs. Not my cup of tea but for others interested:  Box and it's "pub side" Dox at 西大直街 next to HIT campus. Pop and electronic music on nighclub side of things, live and non live music and a possibility to chat with people on the pub side. This is where most students and foreign teachers that "go out" head during late nights. Russian Size 俄罗斯酒吧 in 道理 district. Chinese and foreign students. Cosmo in 道理 district. Hottest nightclub in town at the moment. In Bar near second campus of HIT. etc. etc. etc.

I've been told to bring very very warm clothes

 

If you arrive that time of year, yes, as you'll be freezing as soon as you step out of the airport. However, anything you need you can buy in Harbin so no need to shop it all in your current location.

btw people, does anyone know in Harbin a place with good quality coats?


This is kind of a hard question as malls and shops are everywhere. Harbin is a city with urban population of something like 5 million and all in all over 10 million. And it's not the underdeveloped wild wild east that some people make it sound like. There are places to get quality clothing near you where ever you live as long as you're within the actual urban city.

A few ideas tho: Underground malls south of main railway station. The big one being at 红博广场. Underground tunnels at 东大直街 and 果戈里大街. 中央大街 and surroundings have several places. Including big malls and underground tunnels. 学府路 near Heilongjiang University has a few big malls next to Heilongjian University metro station. Has also a fabric market etc. if you want something custom made (got stuff like tableclothing and bed sheets done here). Hongbo Century Square 红博世纪广场 has western brand shops and thus pricier items. Also perhaps better quality.

Does anyone know a good place for home basics, like Duvets, pillows etc? I have a feeling these might be the first things I need to venture out and get!


I'd just head either to Carrefour or Walmart for these things. You'll pretty much find all home basics you'll need at one place and prices are on display. These aren't necessarily the cheapest place to get these things but not really overpriced either. You'll get a good idea how much things should cost and later on could do shopping on more tradiotional local markets if you so please. I still personally head to Carrefour when I need items related to cooking etc. Several locations around the city. Baidu or QQ maps are your friends.

What is everyone doing in Harbin? Study or work?


Studying Chinese or something engineering related, business or medical stuff. Working as an Enlish teacher. Few odd engineers and other professional consultants hired from overseas. Also some Asian expats. Lot's of Koreans and Russians.

My contract is already up, so you would be siging a new contract with the landlady (who's very nice btw - lots of douchy landlords in Harbin).


Just heads up for those interested in renting an apartment privately in Harbin that it is normal to pay 6 or 12 months of rent in advance. So be vary about your future landlord and take someone local with you when renting unless you are sure you can do it on your own.

In order to avoid a major faux pas in Harbin, NEVER wear a seatbelt when you ride as a passenger in a car.


Faux pas or not, I always wear a seatbelt. I see accidents involving taxis pretty much every week on the roads.

Change of topic. I will want to buy a mobile phone there, someone recomends me any place? And what kind of card should I buy?

Well, that wasn't the question does anybody knows any electronics official store in there?

About the deals, that will be difficult, try to understand them in your own languag sometimes is difficult, but in chinese?


教化电子大世界 opposite of HIT main gate has any possible electronic device for sale you can imagine. New ones, used ones, computer parts, cell phones, shops fixing your broken computer etc. 百脑汇 next to it has also huge selection of things.

Cell phone stores and small places selling accessories, fixing your broken cell phone or selling second hand ones are littered everywhere.

Get someone speaking Chinese with you if you're not comfortable doing these things on your own. It's not hard to buy a sim card from a kiosk and figure a plan. You can even change your plan just by sending an SMS or calling to customer service or visiting a representive shop but of course it's all in Chinese.
 
Is the smog pretty manageable though?


Yes it is and hopefully once it actually gets colder we won't see days with over 300 AQI readings anymore.

I'll be living in the Daoli district Anne, near the river I think - any advice on this area, like shops etc would be great! Is this near you?


It's a large area stretching from east to west. You'll find a Walmart and a nice big cafe called Maan Cafe at 万达广场. This is next to Flood Monument and 中央大街 which is a main pedestrian shopping street in Harbin. Loads of shops around these areas. A good starting point to explore the city.

For about 4 months, is it pretty easy to get by with an international card and atms there? Or is it difficult to find international atms?


At least Bank of China, ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China and Construction Bank have atms working with overseas Visas and Mastercards. ATM's are everywhere. I wouldn't bother opening a local bank account because of staying for 4 months. Opening an account and getting an atm card is piece of cake but transferring other currencies in or out of your account is a pain.

 

As a final note. Somebody posted on another thread saying that there is an Ikea in Harbin. There isn't. Closest one is in Shenyang.

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^really helpful tips forrest.

For cheap furniture and storage I've always depended on taobao, normally half the price of stuff in supermarkets. And if you're already in china I guess you can send it to your Harbin address in advance?

Just been to the new YuanDa mall in Qunli district today, they have a new supermarket with export foods. Quite pricey but made me feel less homesick buying some cheese :)

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Hey guys! Thanks for your advice until now! Everything is really helpful!

 

Tomorrow is the day, tomorrow I'm getting on the plane! I will arrive on 15th nov. though, I will spend one night in Beijing to rest and then take the train to Harbin on the 15th morning.

 

As soon as I can I will post about my status there. And meet the Harbingers! ♥

 

Love you all! See you again in 3 days!

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Eliaso - all of that information is great, and correct from what I've learnt so far from being here this week.

Managed to find a fresh veg and fish market, right behind my apartment today! And even ventured to the underground shopping market and bought some lunch, getting braver! I'm really enjoying this city, it has a lot to offer, though I do think it helps that I have met a few other Westerners through my new job here that have given me advice and have been welcoming. 

If anyone wants to meet up (especially when you arrive in a couple of days Judith!) then I'm more than happy to - I'm on Yimian St in the Daoli District. 

I even found some of that Tofu Skin that you guys have recommended - leaving it to soak over night to try for dinner tomorrow. If anyone has any vegetarian recipes to share, (with or without Tofu!) I'd love to try them, I'm struggling with the cooking side at the moment just because the ingredients are different to what I'm used to! 

Safe travels Judith!
 

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