So today was the day for the Snow Festival, located right across the street from the Ice Festival in Taiyangdao Park (literally, “Sun Island”). Although the day was technically colder than the day before, it felt warmer, mostly because the sun was out.
To give you an idea about how ridiculously cold it was in Harbin, our driver showed us a bottle of water that he left in the bus overnight. It was completely frozen. Our guide then pointed out that a normal freezer is usually set at -18°C, and that it was -25°C outside. We were basically living in a place that’s colder than a freezer. She went on to say that most households in Harbin basically stop using their freezers and fridges in the winter, and just put their perishables on their balconies, as the balconies have no heating and so everything stays cold.
Anyway, we make our way into the park grounds to see the snow sculptures. I have to tell you, I liked the snow much better than the ice.
- The Mona Lisa
- The details are amazing
- You can actually get coffee in here.
Again, we spent 2 hours there. Any more and we would’ve been frozen into popsicles. The Snow Festival had a lot less people than the ice festival, which was a good thing since most of the time at the ice festival I was lining up for things like ice slides.
There’s actually an international snow carving competition every year. We got to catch one of the entries getting worked on.
China’s entries got its own section, while I think everyone else was put in the same section. Doesn’t really matter though, all the entries looked fantastic.
After looking at all the sculptures (and sliding down a snow slide on a one person and 2 person rubber tube with my guide for 60RMB), we all gathered together and headed for lunch.
I shocked the table with my desire to eat fish head.
The president of the local tourism agency that we used even came out to greet us. It was a really nice gesture from them and the entire group appreciated it.
We got some time afterwards to walk around Zhongyang Pedestrian Street, which Harbin’s main commercial street. The Russians built this street back when Harbin was developing, so you see a lot of European influences in the architecture.
- Zhongyang Pedestrian Street
I also got to try the epitome of Northern China candy bingtanghulu, which are basically a bunch of hawthorns dipped in sugar syrup. It’s very sweet and sticky, but very good. I’d only had it prepackaged before, which tasted pretty nasty. But these were very very good.
I also dug into Russian style cheese bread and a milk popsicle, which I found out had to be eaten together and that girls tend to eat popsicles outside in the -20 degree weather. I also jealously watched my guide buy about 5kg of sausages (Harbin is famous for it’s sausages) to take back to Shanghai. I tried a sample; it was delicious and at that moment I wished with all my heart that customs didn’t exist.
Afterwards we went for dinner.
- These were like sweet potato fries.
Then it was back to the hotel and time for bed. We were going to catch an afternoon flight to Shanghai the next day, where we’d have a free day to ourselves before heading back to the US.