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February 2005 Club News

Christmas | Gymkhana | Chilly | Charity | Calendar

Chilly Chinese

Hi folks! While you all bake in your warm to hot Australian summer weather, we have just returned from a five day visit to the frozen north of China bordering on Russia. Yes folks, even the infamous Vladivostok in Russia is lower on the map than the area in China we visited!

We stayed in the city of Harbin in the Heilongjiang Province (for those of you still following our 'adventures' on a map). Harbin has become famous throughout the world for its incredible 'Snow & Ice Festival' which lasts through the months of January and February.

They have a long winter here lasting from October through to March; four months of snow and ice. However they put this natural resource to good use by inviting teams from over the world to create ice and snow scuptures and this, in turn, attracts the tourist eg. us! Most of the tourists we saw there were from Russia and other parts of China.

While we were there the hottest it got was MINUS 25 degrees C (now this is BLOODY FREEZING). Any part of the skin exposed to the elements was instantly snap-frozen. You really couldn't stand being outside longer than an hour at a time so we did our site-seeing in one hourly stints and then back to the bus for a thaw before the next attempt to venture outside.

Don't know how the locals manage to survive in this freezer and to think that last year when we were offered a job in Harbin University we seriously considered it...aargghhh!

NOW we know better! Some Chinese friends who had visited Harbin last year leant us their down-feathered jackets and trousers. With our thermals, plus regular winter-wear clothes ie two sweaters, plus two pairs of thick woollen socks, plus scarf, plus three pairs of gloves, plus hats we not only resembled the Michelin man but also bore a strong similarity to the incredible hulk.

At one stage as we walked along the frozen river Angela's breath FROZE on her scarf that was wrapped around her neck and chin, just like Scott of Antartica LOL. As usual, she managed to slip on her backside but fortunately through all the layers of clothing didn't feel a thing.

Apart from all the above, the scuptures were magnificent and worth every discomfort. The skill and the tenacity to carve in such freezing conditions must be admired. Some were breath-takingly beautiful and clever. Although the camera 'mis-behaved' a few times because of the cold weather, we managed to take three rolls of film and so hopefully we'll have some nice photos.

So another achievement for us as we'd always wanted to see this 'Ice and Snow Festival'. We're back 'home' now for the Chinese New Year celebrations and then we will head off again for a week with our Chinese 'family' with whom, you may remember, we travelled to Yunnan last year. Not sure exactly where but it's somewhere in Central China! Cheers.

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