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Inner Mongolia, 981km (608 miles) NW of Harbin

A tiny frontier town of 50,000 lost in a sea of grass in the northeast corner of Inner Mongolia, Manzhouli is the East-meets-Wild-West frontier outpost the late David Carradine should have used as the backdrop to Kung Fu. Born almost overnight in the early 1900s, it was once the primary channel for trade between China and Russia. Russians can be seen everywhere in the streets. Most of the signs are written in Chinese, Russian, and Mongolian and many businessmen speak fluent Russian. A new wave of Russian traders has revitalized the city, affecting a return to the rough-and-tumble days of its founding. It is the most convenient base for trips into the gorgeous Hulun Buir, home to China's most pristine grasslands.