Russians, Ice Festivals & Tigers–Oh My! (Part 2)

Given that Harbin, China was once a hub for Trans-Siberian Railway construction, it’s unsurprising that an ice festival is the town’s current claim to fame. How poetic that even today, such a locale remains infamous for its (literally) freezing temperatures.

Truly, Harbin’s ice festival is stunning–particularly its crowing jewel, Harbin’s Ice and Snow World. I feel blessed to have made it there, at least once in my lifetime.

But I’ll be honest–magical as the Snow World was, there are some drawbacks to wandering around in -20°F weather (that’s actual temperature–none of this “feels like” nonsense!) after the sun goes down. Namely, being brutally, numbingly cold. The day after our icy adventure, our group decided to take a break and head to the (only slightly) warmer Siberian Tiger Park.

For me, this site triggered conflicting feelings. Continue reading “Russians, Ice Festivals & Tigers–Oh My! (Part 2)”

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Russians, Ice Festivals & Tigers–Oh My! (Part 1)

In addition to introducing the upcoming year, Chinese New Year also marks the official start of spring according to China’s lunar calendar.

This year, I owe the lunar calendar a big commendation, as it pegged spring’s arrival perfectly. Just two weeks ago, temperatures here were in the 40s and 50s. Following on the heels of February 8th’s New Year celebration, the cherry blossoms are blooming and I’m shedding my jacket, happily welcoming 75°F days.

But the sunny days have made me nostalgic, bringing to a close our last winter to be spent in China. With the days counting down to the end of our assignment, I’m fondly remembering adventures we’ve taken, even as I wonder how well we’ve availed ourselves of our time here.

Of our many exotic escapades, perhaps the one that stands out most crisply is our trip to Harbin. China is a diverse country, with many an unexpected influence. But Harbin is a particularly unique gem. Continue reading “Russians, Ice Festivals & Tigers–Oh My! (Part 1)”