Alisha Explores Harbin

and survives -18

Since 1999, Harbin hosts the world’s largest Ice and Snow Festival, aptly named “Harbin Ice and Snow Festival”. Harbin is north east of Beijing and north of the Korean Peninsula. Weather here in the winter can and will drop down to -30C. The Songhua River that runs through the city freezes, which is where the ice for the festival comes from. This year’s festival spanned over 600,00 square meters and had 110,000 cubic meters of ice and 120,00 cubic meters of snow. There were ice and snow sculpture artists from around the world (China, Russia, India, Canada, Mexico, etc.)

Boyfriend and I left Shanghai on a Friday afternoon so we could head to Beijing, where we caught the overnight train to Harbin. We got a 2 person-sleeper car, which was quite big and nice.

 

We landed in Harbin at 8 am, and wore our many layers as it was -9C.

Here is what i wore during the day-time:

  • Bottom Layer
    • Nylon stockings
    • Fleece lined leggings
    • Thick wool socks
    • Snow pants
  • Top Layer
    • tanktop
    • Uniqlo Heat-tec longsleeve
    • Sweater
    • Uniqlo Down jacket
    • Northface rainproof/windproof jacket
  • Extremeties
    • Decathalon Snow Boots
    • Cotton gloves
    • Snow gloves
    • Fleece facehood
    • Giant furry hat

We first took a taxi the Sun Island Snow Sculpture park. This is a giant park that only specializes in snow sculptures, with entries from amateur high schoolers to professional snow sculptures:

 

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Bathtub
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Cereal Killer
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Motorcycle
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Me for size
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Death by Death Star
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They had free ice bikes you could bike around
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Giant ice slide they made for adults. it was FUN
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i dont fit

 

It was extremely cold here, but my fleece head covering was extremely warm. So my nose would become runny, my breathe would freeze, and my warm breath would make my eyeliner/mascara runny. Which would all then freeeze. It was intense.

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After exploring the Sun World park, we took another taxi down to the Central Street. Let me say that taxis in Harbin are very cheap (average $3 USD to go across town)

 

Central Street is a pedestrian street, with lots of food being sold, smaller ice sculptures, and my favorite, ice cream.

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Good ol faithful

It is so cold in Harbin that ice cream is sold on the street, with NO freezer. It’s just on the street.

 

I got one, and with my normal habit, i was trying to finish it as soon as possible. I was subconsciously worried that it would melt and drip on my hand. But Alisha, dummy, it’s -10C. It wasn’t going to happen.

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Ice Cream, no freezer needed

After wandering around the pedestrian street and eating street food, we took a taxi to our hotel/apartment.

 

Of all the things we did this weekend, our 1-bedroom apartment (with full kitchen, washing machine, tv, couch, bed, etc) was cheaper than anything else we did. It was ~200 rmb for a night while an entry to one of the events was ~330 rmb. Haha

 

We checked in and warmed up and watched some free american tv. At around 5 pm, we dressed up and got in a taxi to the Ice festival.

 

Here is what i wore for -20C:

  • Bottom Layer
    • Nylon stockings
    • Fleece lined leggings
    • Foot heating pad
    • Thick wool socks
    • Snow pants
  • Top Layer
    • tanktop
    • Uniqlo Heat-tec longsleeve
    • Back heating pad
    • Sweater
    • Uniqlo Down jacket
    • Northface rainproof/windproof jacket
  • Extremeties
    • Decathalon Snow Boots
    • Hand heating pad
    • Cotton gloves
    • Snow gloves
    • Fleece facehood
    • Giant furry hat

Oh my god. It was freezing at the festival. My phone died in ~10 mins from the extreme cold. Luckily, I have an ‘extreme’ old-school camera that’s good underwater, okay at being dropped from heights, and good in sub-zero weather.

 

We walked around the ice festival. Looking at all of the sculptures. We went down on one of the mega ice slides (SO MUCH FUN). Got lost in the snow sculpture maze. And drank alcohol in the ice bar (i really wanted water, but it was all frozen)

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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
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Ice and Snow Festival
More Ice
More Ice
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Ice and Snow Festival

After about 2 hours (~8 pm) we went back to our apartment. It dropped to -22C and it was freezing. We got some dumplings and snacks from the corner store and went back to our apartment. We watched tv until 10 pm and slept.

 

The next morning, we woke up and got ready for the day. We walked down Gougeli street (i pronounced it ‘goo-guh-lee”) and walked past one of the streams. It was completely frozen!!

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Frozen river

We got heated by eating hotpot before walking down to St. Sofia’s Church. This Russian architecture church is in the middle of the city.

 

After, we got on a taxi and got to the hotel to go home.

 

Harbin, a great place that I highly recommend all to visit!!

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