Harbin China was formerly called Pinkiang and its history dates back to 2200BC, the time of the Stone Age. Located in northeast China the region is affected by cold winds from Siberia and as such enjoys a strong winter culture which includes activities such as the annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. The cooling affects carry over somewhat to summer as well and the region is a favorite getaway during hot and humid summers because temperatures are cooler and less oppressive. Also nicknamed the Oriental St Petersburg, the city is known for its beauty represented in unique Russian and European style architecture. Zhong Yang Street is one area lined with Russian bakeries, French fashion houses, Japanese restaurants and American diners. The local culture reflects a combination of Manchu, Russian, Han and Jewish influences and this is evident in many aspects of life. Local cuisine is heavily influenced by its Russian ties, with fresh bread and sausages among the most notable products. Harbin dishes are said to feature flavors that are hot, dense and strong. Locals tend to prefer vegetables eaten cold with dipping sauces of soy. Flour based foods such as dumplings and rice dishes are also favorites. Wholesale markets are popular in the city and feature everything from clothing and shoes to commodities. Bartering is expected and intended to reflect the quality of the goods. The city s nightlife is bustling with tea houses, pubs and karaoke. There is certainly something to be found for everyone.