***Harbin Ice and Snow Festival***
It was the end of term and I had just finished my exams. I had a week to kill before going back home so I took the high-speed train from Beijing to Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang—China’s most north-eastern province. A class mate came with me and we stayed at my language buddy’s house. It was fascinating to stay with a Chinese family and chat with his parents in Chinese.
Every winter Harbin hosts the “Harbin Ice and Snow World”—the world’s largest and most famous snow and ice sculpture festival. Ice sculptors come from all over the world to make sculptures. On the first day we went there, and walked around for several hours. The sun was shining but it was extremely cold, perhaps -10 degrees, so we often had to have a coffee break and warm up. The festival is like a big theme park with not only ice sculptures but also slides and activities—we went ice skating! We looked at the sculptures which were both impressive and beautiful. There were some of the most famous buildings from around the world, such as the Colosseum in Rome and Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia.
The Colosseum (lit up!)
On the second day we went to visit the tiger park and saw Siberian tigers, which are native to Heilongjiang province. We then walked across the river which was frozen solid, because the weather is so cold. It was very wide, perhaps 500m in width, so it took nearly 10 minutes.
Because Harbin is close to the border with Russia there is also a lot of Russian influence, for example in the architecture and cuisine. We visited some Russian-style churches and tried some local delicacies.
We then returned to Beijing. It was so interesting to spend time in such a cold place and to gain an insight into the culture there!
Walking across the frozen river