1. Jile Temple, February 2010. Harbin’s beautiful Jile Temple, also known as the Monastery of Bliss, was constructed in 1924 by Master Tanxu; a famous disciple of the Tiantai Buddhist clan. Although firmly under the radar as a Harbin attraction, the temple stands as the biggest Buddhist building complex in Heilongjiang Province and draws a steady flow of worshippers.
1. Siberian Tiger Park, February 2010. Visitors to the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin are attracted by the promise of stunning Russian architecture and the world’s most impressive Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival. Less trumpeted, but equally fascinating in its own way is this eerie Siberian Tiger Park Preserve situated 14 km outside the city centre.
1. Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, February 2010. My visit to Harbin’s incredible Ice Festival still stands as a major if not definitive highlight of all my travels around China. Anyone in the market for a trip during February’s Chinese New Year break would struggle to come up with a better plan than checking out this awe-inspiring winter wonderland.
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.