Dress Smart, Not Thick!
Dressing thick isn't as effective as dressing smart. It's easy to tell who're from warmer climes eg Singapore as they invariably look like overstuffed teddy bears.
Your inner layers (long underwear) are the most important, multiple layers if necessary.
Get good snow shoes, or shoes with fluffy insides, especially the inner soles, as these will help to insulate your feet against the cold. Cold feet are a recipe for chills. However these aren't meant for extended periods of wear, only when you're going to the snow and ice sculpture exhibitions etc -- we wore ours for all 12 days of our trip and suffered from sore feet as a result.
Wear double layer of gloves if possible, especially useful when taking photos. Thick (eg skiing) gloves are useless during photo-taking, they limit your fingers' agility and you'll be taking them off constantly, defeating their purpose in the 1st place.
Some warm-looking sweaters actually let in a lot more wind than you realise, wear close-knit ones for maximum insulation.
What the good people of Harbin must be thinking as we wheel our grocery cart up to the register, I can only guess. Loads of bottled water, chili oil and toilet paper; batteries, bread, Enoki mushrooms, ketchup (katsup) and creamed corn... As if we're not an oddity enough around here.
But my apartment is home to many a good meal. Yes, ketchup and bread go well together, and Harbin is known for its bread.
To welcome us to Harbin, the school for which we work told us that we were going to have a party for about ten people at our place. Five actually showed, but they brought a traditional winter soup that we cooked together, and we made chicken soup, traditional for us. I had plans on making a curry as well, with a salad and dessert and wine and beer. I have lots of wine and beer, and much of the salad went bad. The curry, a Lhaksa (sp) curry, which is pretty good, we put on hold, as they also brought other local things: pickled garlic and cucumber, sausage (also famous here), chicken and a bean curd dish. All very interesting, and, some would say, good, from a certain perspective. The "100-year-old egg" type eggs were quite good, though the texture is certain to throw some people off- gelatinous and somewhat eggy...
Well, the main course was a soup of shaved mutton, wide, thick noodles, shrimp, dumplings and greens, boiled in a broth and served in a bowl partially filled with a mixture of sauces that reminded me of a salt block covered in nut butter. Quite good, especially at first, but almost too salty for a western palatte after a while.
Very nice evening, however, building up further international relationships, which is, afterall, much of what travel is about. Even if the relationship lasts only a day or a few hours, it's still a connection to the locale, which is the reason we travel, and especially the reason we moved to China.
Temple of Bliss and Pagoda...
Temple of Bliss and Pagoda Courtyard (Ji Le Si and Ta Yuan), both next to each other. The pagoda courtyard is the most impressive and contains several buildings that are filled with more than 100 different golden colored statues. The temple of Bliss, less impressive houses a congregation of monks. See the travelloge for more pictures of these temples. Both temples are visited by chinese people, bringing offerings and saying prayers.
In China 20p
"In China 20p"
When our daughter in law came to Scotland to visit us, she loved browsing in gift shops, turning over the items and declaring proudly, "Made in China." She would would then look at the price of the item and then calculate in her head what it would cost in China. No matter how long the calculation took, the answer was just about always, "20 p (pence)." So, we went to China wondering if everything cost 20 p. Of course they didn't; some things were even cheaper! Our visit was amazing, and one we will remember forever.
"Travelling to Harbin from Beijing"
Our visit to China was not one we had planned until our son moved there, first for 6 months, and long term when he married a girl from Harbin in North Eastern China. We spent the first 4 days in Beijing and then took a train to Harbin. This was an experience. On the advice of our son we took a hard sleeper for a 12 hour daytime journey. We had a middle and top bunk and for 2 60ish year olds, this was not a great idea (unless you are very nimble).Our relatively extensive study of Chinese language did not help us as nobody could understand it! The journey from Beijing to Harbin was about 12 hours long and it is wise to buy food for the journey before you go. Dried noodles (like Pot Noodle) are sold in all food shops and the train had hot water dispensers . Do be careful what is in your pot of food. My wife bought an ice lolly with that rather unusual (to Weterners) flavour - green pea!
Ha'er'bin with good weather
"Nice weather does exist in Haerbin!"
We just needed a weekend to spend in Haerbin and walk among some of the well-preserved Russian buildings. To eat, we had a good find on the cobblestreet pedestrian road. There, we actually enjoyed the sun and some cold draft beer. Along the river, we sat on the benches and watched some older people do exercises and prepare themselves for swimming in the water. The St. Sofia church is beautiful from the outside, but the inside has been gutted out to make room for pictures. It was slightly dissapointing from the inside since we were expecting the remains of a church and not a photo exhibit. Some of the pictures were very interesting though.