Ice and Snow Festivals - Russian
27.01.2011 - 14.02.2011 -23 °C
It freezing outside its roughly -15 atm. The high for today was -8 but at least it was sort of sunny, well more glary actually.
Flight to Harbin took roughly 3 hours from Beijing. We decided to take a bus but it was harder then we thought. We really didn't know which bus to take so trying to communicate with anybody was a mess. Even after showing the chinese written address of the hotel, the 4-5 people trying to help us still weren't sure which one would take us there. Eventually one of them pointed to one bus and we got on and off we went. it took around 45 mins to get to the city, we got off only because the driver kept calling out our hotel name. It seemed that the driver asked someone who spoke English to let us know we had to take a taxi. We got dropped off in a street corner and hailed for the taxi.
Harbin has some 39 million people, 4 million in the city. Its one of the smaller provinces but was much busier then Beijing.
Alot of people go home to their families during the spring festival as they get one week off the celebrate the new year.
You can really feel the bite in the air, but it was sunny so it didn't feel so bad. We thought we'd go venture around the pedestrian street Zhongyang Dajie where some buildings looked european and it is said to be one of the longest pedestrians street in Asia. It is lined with cobblestone so it was a bit hard walking on when there was snow everywhere.
We then went to St Sophia church which looks Russian. Though I could not see any Russians in sight.
The first few hours of adjusting to the cold is the hardest so we looked for somewhere to escape the freeze and landed in a All you can eat buffet on the top floor of some building. The meal wasn't cheap but the variety was bigger then anything I'd seen. There was eight buffet stalls each serving with about 20 different varieties of food. Some of them we were too scared to touch. I loved the Taro Puff Pie and the Green Tea Cake. Unfortunately they didn't take Mastercard, so some waiter escorted me to the nearest ATM while he told the girls what had happened, they all giggled like they'd been told a dirty secret.
Satisfied we walked down the street and was surprised that Zhaolin Park was so close. Even though we were tired and frozen we thought we would still check it out. Its like a miniture version of the Ice and Snow festival but with ice sculptures around the world. I really like Thailand's ice carvings. They were very defined. My dad said they were good at wood carving so that probably explains it, since I don't think its ever snowed in Thailand. Though I don't know if it was worth the entry fee. Cost us 200RMB ($30AUD).
We then went home to thaw before the next day began.
Today we went to Sun Island Snow Festival. Instead of ice, its snow. Hundrerds of different snow scupltures around the park. Massive ones that went up to 500meters in length. The snow in Harbin is so soft and squeaky and powdery. It doesn't turn to ice when you step on it. So we had a bit of a snow fight to lighten up my mood. Coming back was annoying, we couldn't find a taxi driver to use the meter and kept giving us a set price. We eventually agreed to pay for an amount double what we paid coming there, but I guess it would of been the same if we told a taxi to wait for us.
I was really feeling my sickness creep in and slept the rest of the day, too tired we had room service before we headed off to the Ice Festival.
When you're out with temperatures this low and windy, your nose starts to run your face starts to burn, wearing a balaclava isn't such a bad idea. I had about 6 layers of clothing on and 3 pairs of socks, my pants that I had especially bought for this day made me look like I had a doonah around each thigh.
The place was busy when we drove in, the guy gave me a card written in English asking if he wanted us to wait for him for a certain price. We decided that this would be the best because I did not want to get stranded there and pay double the price. Tickets to the festival were expensive! 350RMB or $60AUD. Though it was well worth it. The place looked like disney land on ice, the ice sculptures were built like palaces. You can slide down some and can get a bit of speed. There was a dancing stage where people would dance to Western songs. It seems like hugging the ice was something they liked to do in their photos. There was also a snow slope at the back of the fesitval, a little ice maze too and rides. The place was brightly lit with all the lighting in the ice as it changed colour every few seconds. We could also see from a distance some kids playing on a tractor that shovels up snow. it was kinda funny watching them.
We'd seen all the ice and snow, so now we're ready to go to Chengdu. Where it will be a lot warmer and hopefully get to see some pandas.