We spent the weekend in Harbin, in northern China. The town has a strong Russian influence because it is so close to the border. Of Siberia. We were practically in Siberia in the middle of winter. Who does that? People who want to see ice festivals, that’s who.
We left Suzhou on Friday afternoon and spent the night at the hotel near the airport. To get there, we caught the Maglev train. Short for magnetic levitation – the train doesn’t touch the track (or something like that). This is the face of a giddy-with-excitement geek.
His excitement was all about this – the top speed.
I personally prefer the fast train from Suzhou to Shanghai: it may only travel at 340 km/h, but the carriage doesn’t shake and rattle and make noises like it’s about to fall apart. Still, how often can you get to travel this fast (airplanes excluded)?
Our accommodation at the airport wasn’t too shabby, with a fabulous window and an impressive view.
We arrived in Harbin on Saturday morning and the chill hit us as soon as we walked out of the airport terminal. The first breath of -29°C air leaves you coughing and gasping for something a little warmer. A driver picked us up and took us straight to our hotel in the city. More like a suite, with a separate sitting room and dining area. And the best thing was the temperature. Why can’t they do insulation/central heating/buildings(!) in Suzhou like they do in Harbin? Here is a view from one of the hotel’s double glazed windows.
We decided to have a quick lunch at the hotel cafe before heading out into the weather again. We had a driver ready for us at 2:30 pm, but Geoff’s lunch wasn’t ready for him at 2:30 pm (hint: don’t order the beef, French style), so he had a few bites of ours before we had to run back to our room to layer up before heading out.
The weather had warmed up by the time we arrived at the snow sculptures – it was only -27°C! I don’t know how many layers Arlo had on but trust me, despite the scowl, she was warm (or not really cold, anyway).
Snow sculptures – pictures just don’t do them justice, but here are a few anyway
And some other random pictures from the day
More to come in part 2.