Saturday, January 15, 2011
Ice, Ice Baby
HARBIN-- Zhaolin Park -- Part 1 of 3
Winter in Beijing this year has been a complete let down. Last year, we in Beijing were treated to two major snow storms by Christmas. This year, we had a 30-second flurry just before New Year's and that was about it. I almost feel like I'm getting ripped off -- Beijing has the cold weather associated with winter, often times dropping into negative territory, but snow is rare. As a native of northeast Pennsylvania and the many Nor Easters we get, when it gets cold there needs to be snow. No exceptions.
So to fulfill that part of me that craves the frigid fluffy white stuff I took matters into my own hands and headed north -- to Harbin.
Harbin is China's largest northern city, in Heilongjiang Province. The city is heavily influenced by Russia and has all the Western features associated with a city in Europe.
But aside from being cold and having some decent architecture Harbin is known for its annual Ice Festival.
Last year, I opted out of taking a journey north to see the snow and ice -- I was just getting started with my job and was short on cash and the urge to spend any unnecessary time in the cold. But this year, with no snow, a little extra cash on hand and the desire to do some traveling, I decided to man up.
With new Timberland boots (fur included), a nice new [fake] down winter jacket and three pairs of thermals, I was fairly certain I'd survive the two day trip I had planned.
The high speed train I'd booked -- 8 hours from Beijing to Harbin -- arrived around 4 p.m. It was relatively dark by then and perfect for visiting Zhaolin Park for the night-time ice sculptures on display.
Temperatures were about -30 degrees C or roughly -22 F.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: The ice sculptures came in different sizes, most close to life size
FUN WITH BOB: I was surprised to see these two characters at the Ice Fest. But American cartoons are wildly popular in China, so it figures
WHO?: An ice owl, one of the any animal sculptures at Zhaolin
BRIDGE MAY BE ICE: A bridge across the small creek in Zhaolin was made completely of ice
COOL PAVILION: A typical pavilion and pathway found in most Chinese parks... made of ice
TEMPLE OF ICE: Many of the sculptures were of well-known landmarks in China and around the world, like this one of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
COLD AS ICE: A passageway made of ice
CARE FOR SOME COLD?: A Care Bear ice sculpture