Harbin – Ice Festival!

After drinking a few beers with the travel agency staff (and many of their unsuccessful attempts at getting us to sign up for a Russian burlesque show), we set off for the 冰雪節 (“Ice Festival”). The festival, itself, is efficient and extremely well-organized; almost as if the festival is one of the primary revenue generators for the city of Harbin… Weird.

Navigating the different ice/snow sculptures and activities is a strategic game of time management. One mustn’t stay outside too long, or risk death via sub-zero (-40 F) temperatures. However, at the same time, the festival almost forces patrons to purchase overpriced beverages and snacks in order to sit in conveniently-placed, heated cafés. The design is brilliant! However, not brilliant enough to conquer two wily, young China veterans!

One simply need to stare at the café’s menu (feigning an attempt at translating due to poor Chinese skills) just long enough to warm up, before replying in perfect, fluent Mandarin, that there is nothing on the menu that looks appealing. Works every time!

Now, for what you all have been eagerly anticipating: Photo dump!

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And simply because this was his original intention: It must be noted that my friend went without a hat and gloves for the entire duration of the trip…

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After about five hours at the ice festival, I realized that my organs and limbs were slowly, but surely beginning to fail. When it became difficult to create words with my mouth, I knew it was time to go… We trekked back to the travel agency van in a last-ditch effort at clinging to precious life, lest we succumb to Harbin’s frigid, inhuman temperatures.

This set the stage for our next adventure, and a story I shall not easily forget. Unfortunately, I shall save this for the next post, so keep reading!