Harbin: Winter Wonderland (part 2)-A A +A
Saturday, June 9, 2012
THE Rural Bank of Itogon executives continue on their HARBIN winter adventure in CHINA. Our tour guide advised us to don our thickest winter clothes for the next day. He said that the temperature could go as low as -30 degrees centigrade at the frozen SONGHUA RIVER. This river runs through Harbin from west to east, and is one of HARBIN’s tourist attractions. In summer months, there are sightseeing launches and for the brave, swimming.
In winter, the river is frozen and the site is turned into a winter playground. Upon arrival at the site, I chose to slide on my winter coat straight down to the frozen river instead of going via the regular concrete stairs. That was one of the most exhilarating 10-second fun slides of my life! The temperature was -24 degrees centigrade. We watched several middle-aged men jump and swim into a carved-out freezing pool. There was a lady clad only in a bathing suit with whom anybody may pose with – for a fee, of course! I snapped a picture of her back from afar. Other people were skaters, chair-skiers, snow-mobile riders or just plain spectators.
Meals are always welcome because food is served hot in heated restaurants. The thought of going up to a Mountain Ski Resort was thrilling. Since we were already in the vicinity, six of us decided to be trained on how to ski. We were fitted with the right sizes of ski equipments and hired two instructors to coach us. Believe it or not – we learned to ski in just one hour in the -28 degrees centigrade temperature! It took some time to bring back the heat into our noses and fingers. Although it was freezing outside, our feelings of warmth was indescribable for having accomplished an almost impossible dream – to ski.
Our next stop was at the HARBIN Ice and Snow World. This is one of the most beautiful man-made sights I’ve ever seen! At the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival (in late January or early February), Harbin puts on a spectacular show to rival the Snow Festival of its sister-city in Japan, Sapporo. While the rest of China is celebrating with paper lanterns, Harbin is showing off with lanterns carved out of ice! Delicate sculptures and whole buildings made of ice are brilliantly illuminated. It was so festive and amazingly beautiful that I almost forgot the evening’s -30 degrees temperature! Our guide told us to go to HARBIN only during winter time, for in summer, there’s nothing to see.
The steaming hot Shabu-Shabu dinner was the culmination of our dream-like winter wonderland adventure in HARBIN!
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 09, 2012.