A winter wonderland-Exploring the north part of China

My trip to Harbin was an improvised one. In fact, one of my country mate from Guangzhou,wanted so badly to see snow falling .As you may guess in Guangzhou ,snow never fall and on top of that ,we do not have snow in our tropical hometown !So for her seeing snow touching it and playing in it ,was kinda big deal. For me it was roughly the same ,except that I already saw my first snow (but for only one day though ) in Nanjing City (where i currently live) on November 2016.

To rewind ,I had just returned from one month of holidays in my tropical island where i got full exposure of the sun , sea and sand . And now I was already planning my next adventure ! A trip to a totally opposite place! A place full of snow , cold weather ,big russian buildings and wild animals.

We took the plane from Nanjing and flew over to Harbin in March 2017 , believing the place won’t be so cold as in the deep winter where temperatures can attain -30 degrees celsius but yet we would get to see enough of snow since Harbin is pretty much north in the map of the world .Even from the airplane we could notice the ground was covered with large areas of white patches. It was a first time sight. We all got very excited . We pulled up our hoodies ready to get down into a world full of snow !

To our sheer disappointment , the grounds were however not covered with snow ! Getting by taxi to downtown harbin , we discovered only patches of snow here and there. In our minds , we expected streets full of a few feets of snow . But it was clearly not the case.

Quite surprised and disappointed, we took a brief rest at our hotel and went out during the night to admire the beauty of St Sophia Cathedral under the full moon. This definitely cheered us up as it was a grandiose sight. We even got to see the surroundings which were scattered with snow and ice here and there. In fact , the people cleaned the streets to get rid of  the snow so that no one could fall ( but we were not aware of that).

Returning back quite late ,we made arrangements for next day before going to sleep.

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Russian Orthodox Church

The following morning ,we rose early at around 5 a.m and went to railway station . We took the train to the city of Mudanjiang which is located further north of Harbin . But the place where we were actually going to, was located way further near the russian borders! ( you will know soon !)

The train was almost empty and we fairly got good seats . So we just relaxed and sat back. After a few kilometers , the scenery started to change! To our mere excitement , we started seeing large plots of land covered with trees AND SNOW !  The scenery was so beautiful just like in the movies. I cannot describe the perfection of travelling on a comfortable train while listening to a good music and passing through these wonderful movie-like nature. The vast lands of trees covered with a blanket of white icing extended beyond the horizon and the scenes were passing by us as if we were seeing a movie depicting the beauty of planet earth. But this was indeed real !

Our trip was already upgrading ! Sure ,we wanted to just get out and roll in the snow but seeing this was enough for us to make us realise ,we made a good choice by going on this trip ! It was really a breathtaking sight !

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Train Views

Eventually,after four hours we arrived at our first destination ! Little did we know our troubles began here ! We were in the town of Mudanjiang with only a few patches of snow everywhere but we were feeling colder than in Harbin.First of all , there was no tourist bus going to “China snow town” anymore as it was not the peak season ! And yes that’s where we were actually going ! The taxis were asking really freakingly expensive prices for a 2 hours drive to the remote village.

The China Snowtown is actually a place far away from civilisation with remote access to the large public . We wanted to go there after we saw on pictures the true revealing untouched beauty of that place with lots and lots of guess what ? SNOW ! And it was really like out of a fairytale place !

Gifted with the world’s top snowscape, the Snow Town was unknown to people outside. Several years ago, some cameramen arrived there and their photos earned the international prize. Soon the purely beautiful landscape of the Snow Town came to public sights as background scene of famous TV plays and films in China. In 2012, China’s Snow Town was awarded the title “National Civilized Village” by the Central Committee of Civilization.The unique scenery makes snow town becomes a beloved in media industry. The pictures and videos by press, photographers, or TV series had been spread to the world widely. And from then on, Snow Town got many titles such as the Soul of North, the Source of Snow Scenery.

The forest farm sits at an elevation of 1,500 meters above sea level and covers a forest area of 500 hectares. Influenced by the warm current of the Sea of Japan and cold fronts from the Lake Baikal, the snow period here is up to seven months every year and snow thickness may reach around 2 meters. The farm offers a sight of blooming ice sleet slush flower in early winter, milky snow during the depth of winter, and freezing rime fog at thawing or frost free time of early spring.

Especially, the snow here is famous for its thickness and high viscosity. Snow looks like milk scream and hangs from the eaves to the ground, forming a unique scene of “snow curtains”. Covered by snow, local traditional wooden houses here show a variety of shapes like horses, lying rabbits, turtles, giant mushroom, etc. In the evening, tourists can participate in a bonfire party together with local people and sleep over at their homes. For photography enthusiasts, birches, cedrus, little huts, red lanterns, wattle wall, and sunrise are all wonderful themes. Hence a dreamlike fairyland of snow gets its name.

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#copyright @khivishta

I know what you are wondering !it’s not a real picture !!! BUt I can assure you its 100 % real , authentic and no photoshop ! Taken from my simple 13 MP phone camera !!! Yes ! IF you cannot believe that, well me too I did not believe it when I saw pictures of others before going there! So you know what to do right ? You have to see with your own eyes to believe it ? just go there ! But it was not very easy for me , I should say ! ( But totally worth it !) . I don’t regret one ounce of my decision to go there !

Light snow was starting to fall where we stood near the railway station . We keep begging the taxis to make an affordable price for us . And after what seemed like hours and hours of arguments , we found one relatively affordable taxi to take us to the forest town and back. We started our route towards this remote village situated among the forest and mountains  . Our taxi driver was an old man who just came to work in this region, claiming this was his hometown ten years ago . We started leaving the town and driving in the non asphalted roads leading to our destination . On both sides of us ,were plain lands with patches of snow and soon we started spotting a big frozen river .

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Frozen River

After asking around to some rare sighted cars ,that we saw on the way ,for directions to proceed further, the driver noticed that there was not enough gasoline in the car to go that far !We were quite astonished with the skills of this driver . He drove for almost one hour and now we had to return back to civilisation for gasoline to replenish the tank . It seemed indeed a foolish act ! In the worst case scenario ,we could have been stuck out of nowhere ,far from civilisation ,with No gasoline and no way to go back !**”facepalm”**. But somehow luckily , he just noticed that we lacked enough gasoline in time .

And thus , he just turned his way around and drove back to the civilisation. Taking advantage of the situation ,we stopped for some snacks and a toilet break. And of course ,we replenish the tank . And back again we hit the road ! This time we put some motivating songs and started singing along which made the trip more enjoyable along with our snacks. Eventually my friends dozed off . I continued to watch outside for what seemed like hours until i saw a drastic change in the weather . Snow started to fall and was becoming more and more heavy as we got closer to our destination! The scenery also started to transform slowly into a world of trees and ground covered with layers of snow which was getting thicker and thicker as we moved further . And yes we were in the forest climbing the mountainous parts in the car under a heavy fall of snow . It was so beautiful to see all this snow for the first time . Everywhere was covered with snow . there’s nothing quite as serene as seeing the countryside covered in a fresh sheet of snow.

It was becoming more and more perfect and soon it attained the wow factor . And believe me even for someone who has seen snow before ,this village was just wow ! Just out of a fairy tale !  We paid the entry fee and entered the gate . Getting out of the car we realised how cold it was . Colder than in Mudanjiang and Harbin! Trees, posts, cowsheds loomed into my vision, then vanished, swallowed in white.As I glance up at the sky, snowflakes fall on my face – colorless confetti in a wintry ballroom. Yet I wasn’t just dancing with the snowflakes; I was flying!

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China Snowtown

The snow hugged the wooden houses like a day old baby, new and clingy. It was like the street had been put to bed, hushed under nature’s frigid eider-down. How odd it was to look on that view, so so different.

Boughs of trees adorned with thick pillows, so fluffy someone must have plumped them up; the ground a series of humps and mounds, beneath which slinking underbrush or outcrops of rock lay hidden; a landscape of crouching, cowering wooden features in droll disguises—it was comic to behold, straight out of a book of fairy tales. But if there was something roguish and fantastic about the immediate vicinity through which you laboriously made your way.A vast area of forest gazing down from the distance, awakened in you feelings of the sublime and holy.

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Christmas – like Snow trees

We were happy ! happy and satisfied ! Intricate patterns of ice floated weightlessly downward from the pure white sky above, each flake swirling and dancing, as an icy wind carried it toward the group of intrepid travellers. We took so much pictures and walked around ! We even did some snow activities with the husky dogs and their reins and sliding down on snow from the top on a buoy(like in a waterpark but this time it was a snowpark !)  . It was a funny and enriching experience .

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Husky Dogs
We enjoyed everything about this weather : The satisfaction of being the first to make an impression in a blanket of freshly lain snow, the subtle crunch underfoot as we strode forward and the best bit of all…the sight of low hanging shafts of sunlight illuminating the sparkling whitened scene before us.

Soon night started to fall and darkness started to englobe the place .It was quite dark now and the snow was still falling, clumps of wet flakes drifting endlessly down, the air moist, the sidewalk mushy underfoot. Suddenly, the area lighted up at the same time everywhere to reveal a colorful picturesque sight straight out of a cartoon and it was even more wonderful and marvellous to see this in real . It was reassembled christmas decoration on tv shows!

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Nightfall at China Snowtown

 

A magical atmosphere reigned the place with so many different colours of lighting  and yes we finally saw that our efforts did not go in vain ! It was totally worth it to come to this place ! It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience !New fallen snow, milk bottle top sized snowflakes drift lazily to earth on gentle breeze, crisp winter air, snow topped street lamps, footprints heading inside the homes , quickly covered by a pristine blanket of white.

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Nightscene

Gazing at the views and not worrying about anything else , we were stunned when the taxi driver finally called us and we rushed back after rolling in the snow of course !

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Night alleys

It was a wonderful experience ! We made our way back to the railway station under the dark night in the forest away from all civilisation . It sensed so adventurous ! I felt really proud to be able to do this trip ! The return way was more calm and quicker …

We finally got back to the town and bought tickets for our 4 hour train to Harbin ! Unfortunately the train back was very less desired . It had very uncomfortable seats and was packed ! We had a hard way back to Harbin !

Back to Harbin we took a black taxi , which tried to cheated us by making us pay more but we ran away ! Cool us ! haha xD

The next day we woke up again early to go where? To the siberian tiger park !

It was quite great to see a different type of zoo where the humans are in the cage and the tigers were roaming freely !It was another awesome and nice experience which topped up our trip! The tigers looked really well fed and seemed to be quite happy roaming around freely in their clans ! Their was in fact not only tigers but lions and liger . A liger is actually a cross between tiger and lion . Very few exist in the world around 10 or so , and we were lucky to see one . The animal was moody though and seemed very strange . It did not want to be captured on camera but I eventually got a snap of the beast.

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Liger

and yes I even captured this awesome shoot of a tiger growling at me !

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Fierce Tiger

Overall , this trip was one of the best adventures I have had so far . I recommend you guys out there to try to reach for the unknown because there is always some rich and wonderful experience to be learnt and cherish at the end !

On this note , See you soon guys ! Cheers ! Gambei !

 

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