1. Zhongyang Street, February 2010. I clearly remember my boss’ reaction when I told her I was going to Harbin for Chinese New Year. “Oh, really? You shouldn’t go there, it’s very cold!” Of course I told her all about the city’s stupendous Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, the atmospheric Jile Temple and grisly Siberian Tiger Park. But it all fell on deaf ears; after all the place was “cold” by all accounts. And so it proved! After a disastrous night at one of Planet Earth’s most miserable lodgings (Little Fir Hostel), I relocated to a four-star hotel on the main street where daily temperatures hovered around minus fifteen.