Harbin Part 3

Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival 2014

Flag of China  , Heilongjiang,
Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our third day in Harbin was another early start. It was our last day, so we wanted to squeeze in as much as possible.  In the morning, our driver took us to the Snow festival.  Located directly opposite the Ice Festival, the snow versions housed many snow sculptures.  The snow sculptures were very impressive, with such great detailing.  The most remarkable one was a huge, imposing piece with horses, faces and swirls carved into it.  I don't think the pictures quite captured just how big the sculpture was.

They also had a huge palace-like structure, which you could climb onto and slide back down.  There were also many smaller sculptures were part of a competition.  They were all obviously beautiful and crafted by highly skilled artists, but all of the structures’ names were so cliché.  The names were all about 'harmonious’ and ‘successful’ and all ‘happiness’.  It was definitely making these wonderful snow creations into something symbolic that I didn’t really understand.  I may not be a true appreciator of art, but I prefer to look at the sculptures and appreciate the skill involved rather than search for the meaning. 

I loved seeing all those sculptures.  It truly shows how talented some people are; to carve such delicate features out of the snow in such a large piece.

We also had some time in the afternoon to walk down Zhongyang  Street which is Harbin’s main street.  The architecture is very heavily influenced by Eastern European style, which for us is very beautiful, because it is more similar to our similar styles.  This is probably  the Russian effect, as Harbin has been a city where Russians have traditionally enjoyed living in.  Consequently, most of the signs around the area are in Chinese, Russian and English.

We stopped off at a Russian café to eat some traditional food.  Who knew you only had to travel to China to experience a bit of Russia?  We ordered something described on the menu as ‘Russian chicken’, which just turned out to be chicken nuggets.  I wonder how authentic it is.

At the end of Zhongyang Street is the big river which runs through the town.  During winter time, it is completely frozen, so they instead have many activities for tourists and locals there.  You could skate, go dog sledding, ride on the horse and carriage, or just wander around.  We were there to do none of those things.  We were there for one reason only.  To try the slide.  This is a slide which is made entirely from ice, and is super steep and long.  We got up to the top to see that you would sit in a bit of a dodgy-looking ice sled and slide down that way, making your trip even faster.  It appeared to be a little dangerous; ice isn’t exactly the softest material, and there was no way of controlling the sled to go faster or slower.  I loved it.  It made my stomach drop like a rollercoaster, and I love that feeling.  Margaux was a little more apprehensive, but I’m still convinced she enjoyed herself, even if she protests otherwise!

We hung out on the lake for a bit longer, looking around at what everyone else was getting up to, until we decided to head to a café for a rest.

We went straight from the café to the overnight train.  Our time in Harbin was quickly over.  We were chatting on the train about how we couldn’t wait to be in ‘warm’ Beijing again--- after -33 degrees Celsius, -3 degrees Celsius felt like t-shirt weather.

Going to Harbin was definitely one of my favourite activities since I’ve been in China.  It is a town full of culture, history, and the lack of feeling in my limbs from the cold was definitely worth it to see the breathtaking snow and ice sculptures.
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Joan Jay on

Cannot believe you went on the slide and loved it. There must be more of your father in you than your mother! Loved your photographs and look forward to seeing more of them now that you are home...love nanna

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