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
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
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.