#111 Teaching at Taizhou Teachers College, China ( HARBIN: Part 2, World of Ice & Snow, Stalin Park, Buddhist Temples and Confucian Temple!)


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January 14th 2009
Published: January 14th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

Every year, Harbin creates a fantasy "World of Ice and Snow". Visitors and tourists are dazzled and overwhelmed by the size of the architectural and imaginative creations. These fantasy buildings are made completely from millions of blocks of clear river-ice and are illuminated by inserted, colored neon-lights. Nightly fireworks bring more magic to the clear, crisp sky and add to the evening's joy.
THIS IS PART "TWO" OF MY 2009 WINTER-VISIT TO HARBIN, THE "FROZEN" CAPITAL OF HEILONGJIANG, THE NORTHERN MOST PROVINCE OF CHINA:

MY PRIMARY REASON FOR BRAVING THIS 24 HOUR TRAIN-JOURNEY FROM TAIZHOU TO SUB-ARCTIC HARBIN IS THE ANNUAL "ICE AND SNOW FESTIVAL", WHICH INVITES VISITORS FROM AROUND THE WORLD, DURING THE MONTHS OF DECEMBER THROUGH FEBRUARY, TO ONE OF THE GREATEST SNOW- AND ICE-CARVING EXTRAVAGANZAS ANYWHERE ON EARTH.

IN MY LAST TRAVELBLOG #110, I SHARED WITH YOU SOME PHOTOS OF THESE SPECTACULAR STRUCTURES OF ICE, ALONG WITH PHOTOS OF THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. SOFIA, THE ARTISTIC "SNOW CARVINGS" OF SUN ISLAND, AND THE 2009 DISNEY ICE WORLD IN THE HEART OF HARBIN.

IN THIS TRAVELBLOG #111, PART 2 OF MY VISIT TO HARBIN, I WANT TO SHARE A MORE EXTENSIVE SERIES OF PHOTOS, HIGHLIGHTING THESE IMMENSE AND COLORFUL ICE-SCULPTURES AND ICE-SUPERSTRUCTURES. I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS FANTASY-WORLD OF ICE AND LIGHTS.

AS YOU CAN SEE IN THE 113 PHOTOS BELOW, THE NIGHTS WERE CLEAR AND MY DAYS WERE CONSISTENTLY FILLED WITH ICY-BLUE SKIES.

THOUGH I EXPERIENCED BITING-COLD AND DEEP-FREEZE ARCTIC WEATHER DURING MY ENTIRE STAY, THE JOURNEY TO HARBIN WILL FOREVER BE A PART OF MY
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

I arrived at twilight at one of the most spectacular sights of ice and lights I have ever witnessed. Everything behind me is created from ice and snow!!The following images can barely do justice, and I hope that these photos will encourage some of you to brave the arctic cold, and make this journey to this "City of Ice" in Harbin.
MOST FANTASTIC AND COLDEST EXPERIENCES IN CHINA.

YES! Harbin is "cold"!!! There is a constant fear, that one might become one of the ice-statues!!

I can only admire the fortitude and stamina of the folks, who live in Harbin and must brave the climate of this city each of the four-month-long winter-days. I have been to "cold" places in many parts of the world, especially since I love skiing. These ski-trips have taken me to America's most Northern States, as far North as Quebec City in Canada, to Colorado's mountains, and to the Alpine Regions of Europe, but nothing prepared me for the arctic cold of Harbin.

I was adequately warned by some, who have already taken this winter-journey, and so I made serious attempts to bring appropriate clothing:

EACH DAY, Three (3) layers of top- and bottom thermal, "Long-John style" underwear were hidden next to my body by a thick cotton shirt and jeans. A wool sweater, topped by my new, down, "Northland" winter-jacket with hood made the arctic cold "bearable". But my thick, wool gloves were not enough and my fingers did suffer. This biting cold limited the amount of photos, making the taking
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

It is easy to judge the size of this set of five Pagodas, comparing them to the dark silhouettes of the visitors.
of pictures an unpleasant chore.

To my amazement though, the camera did not freeze-up! I hope, that seeing them in this TravelBlog, they will provide you with some extra enjoyment, knowing that they were taken in weather, that will cause frost-bite in minutes.

Once, prisoners and disgraced officials of China were repremanded into these arctic regions, but at the turn of the last century, imperial Russia began to turn Harbin into a modern and thriving city, as they forced land-concessions from China to build the Trans-Siberian-Railroad. This connected the city of Harbin, China to Paris, France.

With this railroad-connection to Western Europe, the fortunes of this once small fishing village changed, bringing with it tens of thousands of Westerners and Japanese, who created a city in their own image. Harbin became a fashionable and wealthy city, "hosting" some 160,000 Westerners. They created a life-style, resembling little of what we know as being Chinese.

The Chinese inhabitants of Harbin in fact became the "servants" of the Western onslaught, being treated with minimal respect and being exploited as little more than "slaves". This fact still causes resentment today.

The scars of this treatment lasted into the days
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Visitors walking among this spectacular,architectural fantasy-display of ice and lights will never forget such a sight, created by the imagination of Harbin's ice-artists and thousands of laborers, working day and night.
of conflict between Mao's China and Russia:
*(Chairman Mao, partly in "anticipation of war" with Russia and partly to modernize Beijing, dismanteled the huge and wonderful imperial wall and fortifications which surrounded Beijing in the 1950's. With some of the bricks he constructed tunnels and an extensive, underground bunker-city, to protect the citizens of Beijing from the expected Russian bombardment. This underground city of Beijing has become a sought-after tourist attraction, but the loss of the wall-fortifications, once surrounding all of Beijing, is one of the city's greatest architectural and cultural losses.)*

There is a park along the Songhua River in Harbin, that is still named "Stalin Park". I don't think it was named after Stalin out of respect for the former dictator, but rather to remind the citizens and visitors to Harbin about the difficult days of the past between Russia and China.

Today, most of the tourists who visit Harbin come from Russsia, but I noticed a greater appreciation for an American tourist than for a Russian tourist, and the English language is more encouraged in Harbin than the Russian language. (These are my observations and are only my personal opinions.)

The history of the
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

Some structures of ice take on familiar shapes, especially if you have travelled the cities within China.
rise to prominence of Harbin into a major city can be seen in its remaining imperial Russian architecture. Many of the architecural structures and masterpieces from these "colonial" days remain, and they are being restored and preserved. These now house anything, from luxurious hotels, Russian gift shops, to McDonald's and KFC's. They make Harbin look more like a city we might see in the West.

Photos and images of the comfortable life of the colonials from the West, their life-style and their wealth during these days can now be appreciated by visiting the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sofia. This Byzantine-style structure has been turned into a city museum, and has a great exhibition of black and white photos, detailing the life of Harbin during that time. (You remember the photos in the last TravelBlog, #110).

Modern Harbin is a thriving city, and offers much to its visitors, whether in the summer- or winter time. But during the winter, the inhabitants have made the most of the misfortunes of the cold, and have turned the city into a winter-wonderland from December into March. The streets, on either side, are lined with colored ice-lamps and the trees around the
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

Other super-giant displays, constructed completely of ice, can easily rival those seen at "Disney World" or in the "Wizard of Oz".
city are displayed with covers of millions of lights in every color.

Thousands of ice sculptures and artistic carvings, all of which will just melt away in the spring, dazzle pedestrians every few yards. Locals and sculptors from around the world helped in their creation. They are adored and photographed by thousands of visitors from every corner of the world. Each is a work of art.

The important collections of ice- and snow sculptures are displayed and can be enjoyed within three of the most important local parks, for an admission-fee of course. (You have also seen the photos of the "Disney Ice Display" and the "Snow-carving Display" in the last TravelBlog #110.) The largest and most phenomenal fantasy-structures, created from millions of blocks of ice and internally laced with colored neon lights, are the first photos in THIS TravelBlog entry.

The outline of this 2nd Harbin TravelBlog entry presentation:

First: The Big World of Ice and Snow
Second: The Central Street Pedestrian Mall of Harbin, China's longest Pedestrian Mall during the day.
(Some say, that it is Asia's longest Pedestrian Mall).
Third: Stalin Park and nearby Songhua River winter-activities
Fourth: The Jile Si Temple
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

This church will be familiar to anyone, who may have visited Athens, Greece.
Complex and its Qifu Futu Pagoda
Fifth: The Wenmiao Jie Confucian Temple


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Permit me also to present a few additional historical and cultural notes, not covered in the last TravelBlog entry, relating to the Northeast Provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning:

Along with the two other northern Chinese provinces of Liaoning and Jilin, Heilongjiang is actually a late-comer to the Chinese empire. However, as part of the former "Manchuria", this region is considered the cradle of the magnificent civilization, The Manchus, that ruled China from 1644 until the collapse of the imperial rule in 1911. The region is still the site of some impressive imperial palaces and structures.

From here, in the North East of China, the "Manchu rulers" plotted the overthrow of the Ming Dynasty and succeeded with the capture of Beijing in 1644. With their success, the Manchu ruler Abahai changed his family's name to "Qing" or "Pure" Dynasty, and moved their capital to the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Under Manchu control, China was actually ruled by a foreign people, but the the Manchus were keen to adopt the Chinese method of rule, encouraging Chinese scholars into the service of their new
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I believe, this colorful ice-castle was built with the Disney World Castle in Orlando, Florida in mind. Its dream-towers reach deep into the freezing night-skies.
empire. Manchu and Chinese bureaucreats worked side by side using first Manchu and later Chinese as the official languages of government.

Despite this close interaction of Manchu and Chinese, the ruling Manchus maintained a distinct separation, protecting Manchu privileges and cultural traditions. The first emperors of this new Qing Dynasty were inlightened rulers, and emperor "Qianlong" (1736-1796) heralded in one of China's greatest golden ages. Under the Manchus, the Chinese Empire expanded to Southern Siberia and Central Asia, into Burma and Vietnam.

By the 19th Century, with the relentless encroachment, manupulation and bloody military pressure of the West, especially by the British and the French, who divided China into spheres of influence after two devastating "Opium Wars", as well as some weak "Qing" imperial rulers such as "Dowager Empress Cixi", the power of the Manchurian Qing Dynasty began to dwindle and culminated in the end of the Chinese empire in 1911.

The Qing Dynasty remained a deminishing power until the last Qing Emperor, the child-emperor Pu Yi, was overthrown in 1911, when the Republic of China was established, and Dr. Sun Yat Sen (1866-1925) was elected provisional President of China. (Check out the spectacular movie "The Little
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

Each piece of marvelous ice-architecture has been created with imagination and hard work by loving artistic hands. In another 3 months, the structures will melt away in the warming spring sunshine, and they will only remain as memories in the hearts of visitors and their photos.
Emperor").

This was China's first attempt at democracy, but was consistently undermined by the Western Powers and Japan, who tried to keep China weak, in order to maintain their spheres of influence. With the support of the Western Powers and Japan, China was controlled and kept weak through regional warlords. The fledgling Chinese democracy was in turmoil and laid open to attack.

The Northeast attracted the attentions of Russia and Japan, both of which helped shape the region's destiny. At the end of the 19th centruy the Russians, interested in the ice-fee port of Lushan, tried to annexe parts of Manchuria and built part of the Trans-Siberian Railway line, before being humiliated by Japan.

In 1931 the Japanese occupied Manchuria, of which Harbin was a major city. In this region, the Japanese founded the puppet state of "Manchukuo", installing the last Qing emperor, Pu Yi, at its Puppet Emperor.

The area of "Manchukuo" suffered greatly during this Japanese occupation of the 1930's and 1940's: The brutal occupation left deep scars on the regions's psyche along with some pitiful sights, such as the "Japanese Germ Warfare Experimantal Base" near Harbin, in the small village of Pingfang.
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

It takes hours to appreciate the park and its collection of ice-architecture, and for many visitors it becomes a spiritual experience.

The base was formerly operated by the Japanese Army's 731 Division, and the gruesome remains of the experimantal base are now open to the public. It housed a top-secret research unit, that subjected thousands of Chinese, Korean, British, Mongolian, and Russsian prisoners to some truly horrendous experiments. (The Japanese destroyed the base at the end of World War II. It was through the tireless efforts of a Japanese journalist in the 1980's that the existence of this base was exposed.

By 1937 the Japanese had occupied much of northern China, as well as Shangai and the Yangzi valley, ruthlessly taking cities, wreaking death and devastation, which is still the cause of a great and antagonistic divide between the China and Japan today. It will take many more decades to heal these deep scars of war.

The Japanese were finally driven from Chinese soil in 1945, but China was plunged into civil war, until it was united once more with the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, under Mao Zedong!

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Please enjoy the 113 Photos more by enlarging them, and your comments, thoughts, questions and greetings are always enthusiastically appreciated.

TO ALLL OF
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

A colossal cathedral-fortress of ice makes a stunning sight.
MY FRIENDS IN CHINA: I WISH YOU A WONDERFUL SPRING FESTIVAL WITH YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR FRIENDS. MAY YOU HAVE GREAT JOY AND SUCCESS IN THE "YEAR OF THE OX". PLEASE STAY WARM, WHILE I ENJOY THE SUNNY AND WARM WEATHER OF MY HOME IN FLORIDA. I WILL SEE YOU AGAIN AT THE END OF FEBRUARY.












Additional photos below
Photos: 113, Displayed: 30


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Harbin: The Big World of Ice and SnowHarbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

Long ice-slides offer additional and exciting entertainment to the visitors of "The Big World of Ice and Snow".
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #1Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #1
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #1

Ohhhh my....! It is such a cold night as I tour through the park of ice and lights. I am so glad, that the camera did not freeze, and that I am able to share these photos with you.
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #2Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #2
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #2

The monumental structures are pieced together with ice-blocks cut from the Sunghua River in the North of Harbin, and are stored in depots such as this one. They will be transported by truck to where-ever they are needed.
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", contTour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont

I happened to catch one of the trucks, transporting some of these huge ice-blocks to "The Big World of Ice and Snow". There is absolutely no chance of any of them melting in these Arctic temperatures.
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #4Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #4
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #4

A towering ice-structure leads into the parking lot of "The Big World of Ice and Snow". It announces the 10th annual festival.
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #5Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #5
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #5

The main entrance to the ice park is of unbelievable size. Tickets are purchased for 150 Yuan, (about $22) and students are half-price. It too will just melt away in about 3 months.
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #6Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #6
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #6

This ice-representation of a European cathedral is the first structure beyond the entrance gate.
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #7Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #7
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #7

This is the first of several ice-slides, offering the visitors moments of speedy excitement down several lanes.
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #8Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #8
Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #8

What skill and imagination does it take to construct these lavish creations of ice?
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Tour of "The Big World of Ice and Snow", cont'd., Photo #9

In another sections of the ice park, an even higher and longer ice-slide, consisting of two lanes wait for those, who are looking for a thrill. There were many, and the wait could be as long as 30 freezing minutes.


14th January 2009

Chairman Mao, in anticipation of war with Russia, dismanteled the huge and wonderful imperial wall and fortifications which surrounded Beijing in the 1950's. --------------------------------------- The leaders decided to demolish the Beijing City wall, because they wanted to build a "NEW" Beijing. This was a vast mistake. Otherwise, Beijing would have its own wonderful citywall like Xi'an. In 1950s, the relations between China and USSR was good. But from aboud 1960, it became worse and worse. At 1969, it reached the worst. Small military confrontations happened in both Northeast and Northwest. USSR put great pressure to the Chinese leaders, bacause USSR had more than 1million army in China-Mongolia border and the China-Mongolia border is only 4-hour away from Beijing. So I guess most Chinese are happy to see the collapse of USSR, just like US.
14th January 2009

Your history knowledge is amazing. But there are some mistakes. Long story, so I just provide some links. There were several key persons creating the earlier history of Manchu. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurhaci http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huang_Taiji http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunzhi_Emperor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chongzhen_Emperor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Zicheng http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Sangui
14th January 2009

Of course it is a long story for the Manchus!
It is not possible to entertain all of the detailed history of thousands of years, and so I appreciate the links. It would take books, as there have been written, to entertain all of these much earlier details. But in fact, the general idea as I have presented them are what has been written in my blog. For further reading, history books will offer year by year accounts of the Manchus. Thank you for the observations and links.
14th January 2009

Bricks diverted for both, above- and below ground construction!
It is true, that much of the wall has been used to build a new Beijing by Chairman Mao, and that included a whole underground city for the safety of the citizens of Beijing, and for the leaders, against the expected attack by Stalin. Small battles were already taking place between Russia and China on the northern borders, as the two countries drifted apart from earlier co-operation. And so, believing an attack by the Russians on Beijing would take place, and having little time to lose, Chairman Mao constructed, with millions of the bricks diverted from the ancient city wall, a whole underground city that stretches for miles, that has not yet been fully explored. Visitors are able to take underground tours to visit some of this enormous complex and amazing facilities. Along with thousands of others, I have been one of these visitors.
15th January 2009

Happy Holidays!
Heh Hans, great blog as usual. Trust that you will thaw out adequately during your annual trip back to Florida! Starting post grad studies next week and have my name down for casual teaching at the major Language Institutes here, and have a place to stay rent free until my place becomes available, so everything going well. Also hunting for good places for my Mum to relocate to on the Gold Coast, so no rest even for the not-so-wicked! Miss you all. Hope Stef gets things sorted for herself. Suexx
15th January 2009

It is true, that much of the wall has been used to build a new Beijing by Chairman Mao, and that included a whole underground city for the safety of the citizens of Beijing, and for the leaders, against the expected attack by Stalin. ----------------------------------------- Against Leonid Brezhnev not Stalin(Otherwize do you think the Stalin Park could be named after Stalin?). Actually Mao and Stalin had a good relationship. The relationship between Mao and Nikita Khrushchev was not good, but also not that bad.
16th January 2009

An amazing display of ice sculpture show! What takes my breath away is the creators' passion of devotion and the long-lasting solid frieze of that unique environment. What a wonderful dazzling world!
16th January 2009

According to memory, there were students' exchange programmes kept going on since the 50s until the early 60s. Photos of beautiful blond Udssr students were even displayed in the windows at the Taizhou Middleschool. How about that? But, people were later told that government of the Udssr had become either terribly corrupted or betrayal against communism: difficult to comprehent!
7th November 2010
Harbin: The Big World of Ice and Snow

A happy man
Whenever I see you,you always wear a happy smile, look so kind.I am afriad of talking with foreigners.but when I see you, I always cannot help to talk with you.which is exciting. You make me more confident,and I want to say:Thank you !

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