Sunday, 30 January 2011

A Model Village Decoration

An Icy Weekend

Hello all, I'm back from freezing Haerbin (don't ask

me to tell you how to pronounce it), and I have lots

to  tell (pictures will be provided soon).

We (4 Israelis, a Tahitian and an American) all went

to Haerbin in the far north east of China to see the

famous ice lantern festival.

So a bit of background about Haerbin - a 6 million

people city near the border with Russia, that has

changed hands between China, Russia and the Japanese.

During winter the temperatures range between -30 - -20

c which is about -10 to -20 F (yeap that means now).

Packed to the brim with clothes and munchees for the

road, we boarded a hard sleeper train, which consists

of a really narrow hallway and triple bunk-beds (not

very big either). After 12 hours of uneventful

traveling we got to Haerbin and were confronted for

the first time with the cold - wasn't so bad, or at

least that's what we thought.

After trying quite a few hotels that said they had no

rooms left (apparently many hotels except for the

expensive ones won't accept foreigners) we finally

settled in a decent one.

The next day we set off to the ice festival compound,

along the pretty wide river (150-200m wide or about

500-700 feet) that's frozen solid. The place was

called  the ice and snow world and had famous

buildings from across the world (gate of triumph, a

church, a mosque, a pagoda and many other buildings

and ice statues) build of ice blocks and sculpted from

ice. At night evrything is illuminated from the inside

which gives the place a really "groovy" 70's

psychodelic (sp?) feel. I'll let the pictures do the

talking when they come.

At night we went to city's Russian quarter and visited

a "blues  bar" full of russians dancing to Russian pop

music (ah - just like home). It was nuts. Oh yeah- and

all the girls were 6 foot (1.80m) blondes or


Notice the douoble gap I made, there's a reason for

that. This is where the real adventure begins. The

next day we decided to go visit the Siberian tiger

park, where you can watch - tigers, but also lions

panthers etc... and also see an innocent chicken or

duck thrown to the open ground and watch as they

devour it. Sounded like great fun.

So, armed with a lonely planet, we left looking for

the bus station that leads there (we were too stingy

for a cab - a fatal mistake). We got to the spot where

the station was supposed to be and - no station. So we

go and ask a bus driver how to get there (sounds

reasonable enough doesn't it?) and after thinking for

a bit he said hop on, change a bus when I tell you,

and you'll get there. We hop on, change busses after a

really long ride and find out that the new bus

doesn't get there and that we have to switch another

bus. We take another bus which, again, takes us to a

long ride and... we end up where we started. Finally

we give up and decide to take a cab. So we walk

towards the road  and a guy approaches us and asks

where. We answer the tiger park and somehow (don't ask

me how), after a lot of negotiating using a 3 year

old's chinese, we  find ourselves stepping off a horse

and carriage in the middle of the frozen lake I

mentioned before, and starting to cross it by foot (I

remind you, it's -25c at this time). Finally we get to

the other side catch a cab and find out that the place

is about to close.

There was a bit more to the story, but this has become

long enough. So we saw some magestic tigers, but

didn't get to see them feast, but at least it was for

free (because there was no one there).

The way back was pretty uneventful, just another 12

hour train ride.

This is the short version of Amit's adventures in


Sorry for not posting for so long (if there are any people left that actually read it), I had both technnical difficulties and motivational ones.

School is going ahead as planned, i.e. pretty monotonous, but my Chinese is imroving, bit by bit.

This time I'll talk about a school trip we had to a small, perfect village called HanCunHe (read: HanTsuenHe).

Out teachers didn't tell us much about this trip, besides it was supposed to be a "language practice day with the "locals", whatever that meant.

However when we arrived, it was a completely different story. Apparently, the whole place was once a mud hut village, with a dirt road crossing it. Now, after the party spiced up the place a bit, It's practically a twilight zone perfect village. At first we visited the village's greenhouse, which was built with the help of Israeli Engineers and Farming experts (we're still on the map), and that uses the for front of agricultural technology, rendering the place self-sufficient. Then we went on to a tour of the village itself, and the museum dedicated to all the work that was done here.

I'll start with the village. The village is built from different housing blocks or quarters, with each quarter consisting of the exact same type of houses in perfect square rows, but with each quarter/block having different types of houses. The houses themsleves are quite large, both in Chinese standards and Western standards, and have even a small yard infront of them. The streets are very clean, very organised (organized?) and very very empty. Besides from the ocassional stray dog, I personally, saw no one, and other people swore they saw at least 3 people. Everybody were away for work, and that means everybody. The number of people who are not between 20-40 in this village isn't very high apparently.

After touring the genuine streets, we entered the museum, dedicated to the commemoration(sp?) of the village, before and after, the leaders who led this project, and all the honours bestowed on this place by foreigners and dignitaries.

We concluded with a not bad lunch in the big hotel at the entrance to the village.

What can I say, This village can tell us a lot about the transformations China is going through.

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