Harbin's notorious feature: COLD
Harbin Travel Blog› entry 6 of 14 › view all entries
I took the cab for the long trip to
This frozen city in winter used to be just a village a century ago, but was dramatically changed upon the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, a branch of which, the Trans-Manchurian, links the northeast of
But what makes tourists want to come and freeze their asses in the Siberian winds of
As I caught my first breath of
I took the cab instead, too eager to get some warm heat, but as I showed the taxi driver the address, he dropped me off in a university entrance. Waaaahhh!! There was no way I was ever going to get lost again, I thought. Most especially not in Harbin where the -16 temperature sets with the sun at 4pm. Worse that Shanghai, Harbin was a place where most foreigners would choose to study Mandarin, practically because no one spoke English at all! I had the taxi driver drop me at a hotel nearby but when I asked for a room, they said they were fully booked. The hotel receptionists didnâ€™t speak a word of English too, and I was basically begging them to refer me to some place to stay for the night.
Again, I felt hopeless as the receptionists could not decipher a word I was saying and all I asked was, â€śWhich bus to take to go to the Ice and Snow World?â€ť. I felt as though I was in one of the worst possible scenarios a traveller could experience, not being understood, no directions, didnâ€™t know where I was on the bloody Chinese Map, and most of all, all of the above in sub arctic temperatures. All too suddenly, a French exchange student popped out of nowhere and boy, my eyes must have literally glowed, too glad to see the first foreigner since I arrived in the city. He apparently was one of the last foreign exchange students left in the campus as everyone had gone home for the 5-week spring festival.
Sunset came at 4:30 and we decided to go back to the dorm to chuck on freshly brewed coffee (a hard-to-find drink in China) at his room, which coincidentally too, was right next to mine. Having the hot drink and a good English conversation unbelievably revived me back to my travelling mood as we went on and on with the directions (He gave me Harbin Map in ENGLISH too!!!!! J) and endless stories of his life in Harbin in the past 5 months. He was to go back home to Paris in two days time, so I felt too lucky I caught up with him that day. I guess luck has its way of catching up with the more adventurous travellers, like me who ventured on to this frozen city, with nothing but the brave old soul.
Dumplings, Harbinâ€™s specialty dish, is what we had for dinner at a restaurant nearby. For 55 Yuan, We finished 3 dumpling plates (about 15 pcs per plate), a deep fried bowl of pork coated in breading, and 2 cans of Coke. Of course I insisted on paying for the meal, having Henry saved my day was priceless. As we walked back to the dorm, I noticed a vendor selling Ice cream on the street, and I wasnâ€™t at all surprised to see that they were just scattered on a table top., after all, this was Harbin.