Thursday, February 18, 2010

2010 Harbin Ice Festival - Day One - Snow Sculptures.

Apologies for the late post, but things have been pretty crazy in Beijing during Spring Festival / Chinese New Year. You'll probably hear about that by the summer time if my slow-posting trend continues. Either way, as many of you already know, Veronica, our friend Jared and I went up to Harbin (哈尔滨) - China's Ice City.

Apparently there are four massive ice festivals held throughout the world. I haven't been to the ones in Sapporo, Quebec City, or Holmenkollen; but as of three weeks ago, I CAN say I've been to Harbin. And, despite the bitter cold, I'd consider checking the others off that list too. It was astounding. The only thing cooler than seeing the structures I'm about to share with you would be to see them without huge throngs of people crowding all over the place. But private ice villages that may or may not exist are a bit above my pay scale.

After an eight hour train ride and a twelve hour stay at a spa, Jared and I met up with Veronica at our hotel. From the hotel we started our winter wonderland excursion by visiting the snow sculpture display and competition. Simply amazing.

There were two major components of this part of the ice festivities.
Part one could be called "Yay China (Snow Form)" and focused on many things about which China is proud. This section included sculptures of Chinese Olympic athletes, philosophers, traditional architectural styles, calligraphy, leaders and ethnic minority groups.Veronica and Jared made friends with a group of young Chinese children hanging out behind a snow bar by asking for a drink. But in this exclusive snow bar club, patrons were required to provide their own cups before being served imaginary drinks. Luckily Jared had a thermos.The other part of the park was dedicated to an international snow sculpture contest, into which applicants from all over the world submitted entries. Some were pretty impressive, others weren't. I took some pictures of a few of these, but around this time my trusty point and shoot digital camera finally died. Veronica and Jared snapped this novelty entrant commemorating the addictive PopCap game "Plants vs Zombies". Clearly the game is popular throughout the world, but its name kept escaping me until a Chinese guy touring the park with his girlfriend exclaimed "ooohh Pulan wasa Zanbi" (or something like that).I was thoroughly impressed by this park until we went to the Ice Festival that night.