Harbin is a city in the far North East of China. It's closer to Vladivostok than Beijing and is only about 200KM from the Russian border. Obviously, being that close to Siberia it's chuffin' cold in the winter. We were told to expect temperatures down to MINUS 26 and, indeed, that's what they were the week before we went. However, it was a positively tropical minus 5-10 during the day so not too bad at all.
There is but one reason to risk the cold and go to Harbin in the middle of its winter and that's for the Ice Festival. A mega-event where several parts of the city are given over to buildings and sculptures made of ice. We were discussing this the other night and although that is what you go for (and it is amazing) it is the other stuff that makes it. The same is true of Xi'an and the Terracotta Warriors. The warriors are amazing and that is why you go to Xi'an, but the city is also really cool and interesting.
One of the interesting things about Harbin is the Russian influence. Lots of the shops still have Cyrillic lettering over their doors, there are lots of shops selling Russian themed tourist tat, including rocket launchers and land mines!
The cathedral of St Sofia also has an obvious Russian influence, with its onion domes. Inside, the cathedral is now a museum with a huge collection of photos showing the history of Harbin.
There are several ice and snow parks around the city. The first is in Zhaolin Park, just off the main pedestrian shopping street. This is on a smaller scale than the others and so is definitely best viewed first. There are two ticket prices, a day and night ticket. Do not bother with the day one. We turned up at about 4:30PM and wandered around waiting for it to get get dark. It looked more than a bit grubby and tacky. There was a distinct air of wondering what all the fuss was about. However, as it got dark, and the lights came it really was a transformation.
After our initial wander round the edges of the park, we came along the proper sculptures as the lights came on...
One of the things I particularly liked was the way that different lighting completely changed the look of the pieces as you can see from the two shots of the same statue above.
Then some wider angle shots of the park as a whole..
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.