This last weekend Amy and I traveled to Harbin, a city of about 4M in the north of China, to visit the Snow and Ice World, see some Siberian Tigers and enjoy some Russian-influenced cuisine. After an early flight on Saturday morning, we went straight to a park full of snow sculptures of all styles, ideas and sizes.
This particular one was about the width of a city block:
After a tasty lunch we headed out to a military/industrial-looking camp which was home for some 400 Siberian tigers. During a safari-like tour in a caged bus, visitors can select from a menu of animals including chickens, pheasant and even a cow which are then given to the tigers as their source of food and hunting practice.
Saturday night we wore everything we had taken with us (literally - about seven layers total) and headed out for the Ice World, a collection of life-size buildings made entirely of blocks of ice containing lights. The result is stunning.
The pace was kept up on Sunday with a very early start to visit a fish market and a sobering trip to Unit 731, a Japanese biological/chemical warfare research center.
We had a brief opportunity in the afternoon to spend some time in the center of town amidst a snowstorm and walk to Saint Sofia Church before making the journey back to the airport.
I would consider it a success on all counts. The trip was organized by the China Culture Center and while organized tour groups aren't normally something we'd gravitate towards, the convenience of having transport, accommodation, dining and activities all arranged was hard to beat in a country where I still have difficulty ordering lunch. Many of the other people in the group were in a similar situation and overall I was very comfortable and pleased with the arrangement. Recommended.
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