Thursday, January 05, 2006

The International Snow and Ice festival officially opened today. Complete with fireworks and hoopla. Harbin revels in the cold and the people take great pride in presenting this wonderful display of "art ice" to people from around the world. When I arrived home this evening, the news showed some very brave and perhaps slightly waco swimmers in an outdoor pool. It must have been an official function as there was a long line of officials there braving the cold. Now, I'm not sure where you live or if you have ever been in a frigid area, but it can be numbing if you are not prepared. I remember -30 F during some winters in Wisconsin, and Minnesota generally has the lowest reading in the U.S. at International Falls, but somehow the current -25 C seems just as cold or colder. So seeing men swimming in this cold is quite awe inspiring and comical. This current picture is from a previous Icelights festival. This picuture turned out pretty well. Picture this, you're bundled up like a Michelin man with your ski gloves on, down jacket, a fleece vest, a sweater, long john tops, longjohns, thermals and wool long johns; and you have to time the photo so that the exhaust of your breath doesn't hover like a ghost between you and your subject.

The attraction is quite affordable at or near 80 rmb or about 10.00 U.S. per person. I have attended each winter that I have been here in Harbin. Some displays are sponsored by leading Chinese companies, such as TCL, Haier, Lenova, Harbin Brewing, ect., and others are independant artists. Harbin seems to have a large number of artists. The portrait artists are frequently seen on Center street. I have found some art galleries with high quality paintings and other fine items priced quite low. At the Icelights festival it is the sculptures that take center stage. The mix of lighting and ice is really quite beautiful. One could spend quite a few hours there enjoying the sights if you have dressed warm enough.

If you would like more information about life in China as a teacher of ESL, you are welcomed to use an instant messenger, and I would be happy to chat. You can find the best messenger here. It will come in handy ordering a gift for Mom when you are on the road.

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