… Is probably what I’m guilty of with regard to this blog. But hey, what’s a month and a half between friends, right? Right?
Yeah. Anyway, so part of the reason I haven’t posted much lately is that while things have been sort of busy, they’ve mostly been busy with much of the same sameness as usual. I’m still living the dream in the wonderful world of visas (that’s not entirely sarcastic, incidentally- a lot of the time, I genuinely like doing visa interviews), still adjudicating my fingers to the bone, and the applicants keep on coming. I have gotten faster, which makes me happy, but not as fast as I’d like to be, which gives me something to shoot for.
But! I have had the opportunity to do some very cool traveling lately. First, I went to Harbin over Martin Luther King Day with a bunch of my fellow consular
inmates colleagues, and we went to the famous ice festival. It was absolutely awesome- freezing, but awesome. Harbin has a very Russian bent to it (which, given its geographic location, isn’t especially surprising) which actually left me really wanting to find an opportunity to visit Russia at some point, which I wasn’t expecting. Also, as our tour bus headed into Harbin proper from the airport the night we landed, our tour guide was talking about how influential the Russian Jewish population of Harbin was around the turn of the twentieth century. While he was talking, he mentioned that most (read: all) of the Jews of Harbin, which was previously the largest Jewish community in Asia, left for either other places in Asia (specifically Shanghai and Hong Kong) or Israel mid-century, saying that currently, there’s only one Jew left in Harbin. So yours truly doubled Harbin’s Jewish population, at least for the weekend. Hey, what can I say? I try to do my part.
Harbin has the largest Jewish cemetery in East Asia, which I didn’t get the chance to visit, but it has a great museum about the Jewish population in Harbin, which I did visit, and I highly recommend it to anyone heading up that way, whether you’re Jewish or not. All of the captions are in both English and Chinese, there are tons of photos and it does a really good job of contextualizing the Jewish settlement of (and subsequent emigration from) Harbin. It was really very well done, especially when I compared it to the museum at St. Sophia, the now-defunct Russian Orthodox church in the center of town, which I thought was pretty lacking, unfortunately. The building itself is amazing, though.
So, a few photos (the rest can be found here, on my Flickr feed):
Aside from Harbin, I had a couple of other good trips, but those will have to wait for the next post, since yours truly is suffering from a really bad cold and typing this out through a Nyquil-induced haze.