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Embracing winter wonders: A Harbin adventure that go beyond time

By Pashmina Zain | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-01-26 07:21

Beautiful ice sculpture in Harbin. [By Pashmina Zain/Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Traveling to other countries opens up new possibilities and broadens one's perspective. It allows individuals to escape their comfort zones, engage themselves in different cultures, and gain a deeper understanding of the world. Furthermore, it encourages personal growth, self-discovery, and the development of valuable life skills. By experiencing different customs, traditions, and languages, one can enhance their adaptability and cross-cultural communication abilities.

One of the most fascinating aspects of traveling is exploring diverse cultures. From the bustling streets to the vibrant markets, every destination has its unique cultural identity waiting to be discovered. Taste local delicacies, witness traditional ceremonies, and interact with welcoming locals to truly immerse yourself in the fabric of a foreign land.

Traveling to other countries also offers the opportunity to witness breathtaking natural wonders, for instance, appreciating the magnificent northern lights or hike through ancient rainforests. The world is adorned with breathtaking landscapes that must be seen to be believed.

Harbin, the capital city of the Heilongjiang province in Northeast China, has become my second home since I arrived. It is a city packed with culture, beauty, and warmth. From its striking landscapes to its vibrant festivals, Harbin has captured my heart and become an integral part of my life. One of the things that first hit me about Harbin is its breathtaking landscapes. The city is surrounded by mountains, with the Songhua River flowing gracefully through its heart. Winters in Harbin are especially magical, with the river freezing over and transforming into a giant ice playground. The Ice and Snow Festival, a highlight of the winter season, showcases enormous ice sculptures that resemble works of art. It is truly a sight to behold.

Tourists visit the St.Sophia Cathedral. [By Pashmina Zain/Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Harbin is known for its rich multicultural heritage. Wandering through the streets of Harbin, one can stumble upon beautiful architecture, like the iconic St.Sophia Cathedral. The city's blend of Eastern and Western cultures is also reflected in its cuisine, which offers a tempting variety of flavors. From borscht to dumplings, Harbin's culinary scene is a melting pot of delicious treats. Harbin is a city that loves to celebrate, and its calendar is filled with lively festivals throughout the year.

Colorful lights in Harbin. [By Pashmina Zain/Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Snuggled along the Songhua River, Sun Island is a port of tranquility and natural beauty. Its vast expanse of greenery, blooming flowers, and scenic trails offer respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. Taking a relaxing stroll through the park, I was captivated by the vibrant colors and breathtaking views, rejuvenating my spirit and connecting me with nature. In the warmer months, Sun Island Water Park provides a refreshing escape from the heat. The park features exciting water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers, offering endless entertainment for visitors of all ages. Sunbathing areas and lounge chairs are available for those who prefer to simply relax and soak up the sun. In the pleasant month of September, I enjoyed my time at Sun Island, dipping myself in the joy of riding the exciting water slide and dragon ride. Following these thrilling adventures, I grabbed a cup of coffee, to get warmth and comfort.

One of the highlights of Harbin is its famous annual Ice and Snow Festival, a huge display of frozen sculptures and dazzling ice lanterns. Back in December, I had the opportunity to visit the Ice and Snow Festival. It was an experience unlike any other, filled with breathtaking sculptures, exhilarating activities, and a vibrant atmosphere.

Taking a ride on the slide, gave me an exhilarating experience that left me with lasting memories. The sensation of sliding smoothly across the ice was incredibly energizing. With each turn and twist, amusement poured through the veins. The wind rushed against my face as I descended with lightning speed. It was a fascinating experience, feeling the ice beneath and the sheer thrill of racing downwards and after that grabbing a cup of hot coffee was a treat. I was mesmerized from the moment I arrived until the time I reluctantly departed. The festival grounds were a display in themselves, with towering ice sculptures sparkling under the bright lights. It felt like entering a winter wonderland, where dreams turned into reality. Walking through the festival, I couldn't help but wonder at the intricate ice sculptures that surrounded me. Every turn revealed a new stunning creation. Transitioning from one sculpture to another, my eyes were captivated by the delicate craftsmanship and attention to detail. I felt as though I had entered a fairy tale, where beauty and magic converged. The festival offered more than just static sculptures. There were numerous activities to join in. I found myself gliding on ice skates, my heart racing with happiness.

The crisp air filled my lungs as I twisted and twirled on the gleaming ice. It was a moment of pure joy and freedom. Not only was the festival a visual feast, but it also immersed visitors in a vibrant atmosphere. The echoes of laughter and excitement filled the air, heightening the sense of enjoyment. The colorful lights dancing off the ice sculptures created a mesmerizing spectacle, turning the night into a medley of hues and shades.

After hours of exploration, it was time to indulge in some delightful treats. The festival offered a myriad of options, from steaming bowls of traditional hot pot to irresistible snacks like tanghulu and fried sugar-coated dough twists. Every bite was an explosion of flavors, warming my heart and soul on the chilly winter night. My visit to the Ice Festival in Harbin was a truly unforgettable experience. If you have not experienced it yet and if you ever have the chance, I highly recommend embarking on this enchanting journey yourself. You won't be disappointed.

There has Harbin Summer Music Festival, where talented musicians from all over the world gather to perform and I am going to experience and enjoy this in the summers. The Dragon Boat Festival brings the city to life with dragon boat races. No matter the season, Harbin always has something exciting happening. One of the greatest joys of living in Harbin is the warmth and welcoming nature of its people. Locals here are known for their hospitality, always ready to share a smile and strike up a conversation. They take pride in showcasing their city and are eager to introduce foreigners like myself to the wonders of Harbin. Through these interactions, I have formed lasting friendships that are making my time in Harbin even more memorable.

The locals here know how to make the most of chilly winters. From ice skating on frozen lakes to sledding down snow-covered hills, there is never a dull moment. The sparkle in everyone's eyes as they engage in snowball fights and building snowmen is infectious. The city truly comes alive during winter, with a contagious spirit of adventure and thrill.

When it comes to culinary delights, Harbin in China stands out as a city with a rich heritage of local delicacies. From hearty street food to unique dishes influenced by Russian and Mongolian cuisines, the food scene in Harbin offers a multitude of flavors and experiences.

Visiting Harbin is not just about exploring its architectural wonders and winter attractions, it's also about indulging in the local delicacies that define the city's unique food culture. Smoked fish, Bing Tang Hu Lu is a popular snack in Harbin, consisting of skewered fruits coated in a hard sugar shell, stewed chicken with mushrooms and Russian dumplings, each dish offers a glimpse into the rich food heritage of this fascinating city. So, make sure to treat your taste buds to the culinary delights of Harbin for an unforgettable experience.

Creative fridge magnets related to Harbin tourist spots. [By Pashmina Zain/Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

My life at my second home-Harbin, China, has been nothing short of extraordinary. The city's stunning landscapes, vibrant festivals, and multicultural heritage have enriched my experience in countless ways. From the mesmerizing ice sculptures to the indulging in the diverse cuisine, Harbin never fails to captivate. But above all, it is the warm and friendly people that truly make this city feel like home. Harbin will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I am grateful for the remarkable memories it is giving me.

The author is Pashmina Zain, an international student studying at Harbin Institute of Technology.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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