Sunday, February 07, 2010

Heavenly Haerbin, China

When I saw Alfred's pictures of Haerbin last year, I was mesmerised. The snow and ice sculptures were breathtaking, and it certainly looks fun. I asked him loads of questions, as his trip pique my interest on Haerbin :)
And a year later, I managed to make a trip to Haerbin- which was a truly unforgettable experience.
My main visit was obviously for Haerbin's famed annual Ice and Snow Festival and we went early this year. The first question when I returned from this trip was the same.. Was it really as cold as it looks?
Yes, it was- but it's still bearable if you walk really, really fast :p
First day in Haerbin was a whirlwind- we flew in from Shanghai- met our local driver and rushed off for some shopping (to buy snow boots), checking in into our hotel, dinner and then to the Ice Festival.
It was a long queue driving into the Ice Festival as everyone was there in the evening to enjoy the scenery at night..
Entrance fee was RM100, and the moment I entered, I was amazed at the sheer size of the Ice World..
I simply cannot imagine the number of months the local master carvers took to construct the Ice World...
Their skills were incredible.
The theme was famous monuments/ landmarks around the world, all lighted bright with neon lights within the ice cubes. We only lasted about 2 hours in there, the cold was unbearable as the temperature dips further later at night.
We went for the Snow World the next day, just before sunset. Entrance fee was RM75.
Complex snow carvings were featured here, we were impressed with their immaculate, detailed carvings- obviously plenty of care and attention was placed into each piece.
When night falls, the carvings were illuminated with coloured lights, giving each artwork a different look compared to day time..
The coverage area was even larger than the Ice World, I dont think I manage to see all of the carvings :(. It was just freezing cold by night. I was ready to surrender when we reached the largest of the display..So grand, but my camera decided to give up on me when we reached. This was the only shot I got before my camera kaputed..
Haerbin town exuded a totally different atmosphere compared to other China towns..
Their architecture skewed towards European, especially Russia. In winter, the age old buildings looks very elegant, walking around town was a pleasure.
A Russian Church now converted into a museum
Haerbin Railway Station
We had quite a lot of coffee stops in town- a place to seek warmth before we continued strolling to our next destination..
One famous extreme activity for the locals (and the daring tourists) during winter was to swim in the Songhua river..What gave them the guts to do that beats me (it was -28 degrees and snowing when I was taking this shot), but I sure salute them! Brrrrr!
We took an overnight trip to Snow Village, a 5 hours drive from Haerbin to experience a short stay up in the snow mountains..
The trip up the mountains for the sunset took my breath away..
The pristine, soft snow that stretched for miles, the sunset's colours on the landscape and the calmness I felt was unforgettable.
Worth freezing my @$$ up there :p
The Snow Village town was very charming..
Lively during the day and tranquil at night. But the food was less comforting (especially for Alfred :p), that will be in another post altogether..
Although I've heard so much about the low hygiene level and rudeness of the locals, I actually didnt find it that bad and had a fantatstic time in Haerbin and Snow Village. It was good fun, with great company and amazing landscape for all of us to keep in our memories for a long, long time.

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Blogger J said...

Pity about the rudeness of locals+(not so nice?) food.... but WAH, the scenery is really breathtaking... :D
(Hmmm.... I think if you throw me into that ice pool and ask me to swim, I will just freeze into a popsicle n DIE)

08 February, 2010  
Blogger sc said...

J: oopps let me rephrase that sentence..actually i find it ok..they were not that rude :p i was shivering just looking at those swimmers! but i did see that some of them were struggling badly and thought they woul drown (they were gasping for breath like crazy!!)

08 February, 2010  
Blogger cocoadeluxe said...

Interesting post to read...I'm anticipated for your second post on the food part..

08 February, 2010  
Blogger Tummythoz said...

Truly a Magical Fairyland! Psst, can bring snow boots when we meet?

09 February, 2010  
Blogger CUMI & CIKI said...

wow.. bloody amazing! if i try and lick the ice sculpture (because I will) i wonder if my tongue will get stuck.. :P

09 February, 2010  
Blogger thenomadGourmand said...

Beauuteefoolll!!! But i wil
NEVER go cos I can't stand the cold!!

09 February, 2010  
Blogger sc said...

cocoadeluxe: thanks :).coming soon..

tummythoz: it was!! wah, snow boots are darn bulky neh :p

cumi&ciki: it's too cold to even expose our dont think you'll wanna try the licking stunt..hehehe

thenomadGourmand: it's not out in the cold all the time, about 2 hours per block..the heaters there are excellent! you should go :p

09 February, 2010  
Blogger babe_kl said...

so beautiful, must be freaking cold!

wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous Chinese new year!

11 February, 2010  
Blogger kampungboycitygal said...

wow so beautiful!! tempted now

11 February, 2010  
Blogger sc said...

babekl: thanks! happy CNY to you too!

kampungboycitygal: hehe you guys have been travelling extensively- so harbin may be part of your plan too now? :)

11 February, 2010  

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