Harbin, China – The land of Ice & Snow

 

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Harbin is located in the North of China (Heilongjiang Province) and is widely known for its spectacular Snow and Ice Festival each year from around December to February.

I had seen so many photographs of Harbin and convinced myself there was absolutely no way it looked that amazing. Well I had to eat my words as I was very very wrong. It is truly a breathtaking place but layer up because you will freeze.

Myself and two friends set off from Qingdao to Harbin on a three-day trip.  I had never packed so much clothing before but at least i was prepared for the below zero temperature.

On arrival the icy cold air hits you like a door in the face. Immediately we were adding our hats, scarves and gloves just to find a taxi from the airport to our hostel.

The hostel we chose to stay in was called Kazy International Hostel. The location was very convenient as we could walk to most places. The nightly rate was fairly low and the staff were super friendly, not to mention helpful. From the hostel you can easily book your tickets for the Ice Playground plus the Ice & Snow Festival. Again prices are reasonable and worth it.

The Ice Playground

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IMAG0619When you think of a playground what do you imagine? I bet its not three adults running around around acting like toddlers. Well we20160902_214818 really showed those kids how to have fun from taking a Husky Sleigh ride, racing each other down the Ice Slide, taking a nippy Snow Ski and much more. The playground is actually a frozen lake/river creating the perfect area for both locals and tourists to have some innocent fun.

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Russian Town/Village/Street

As a blonde, I was constantly mistaken for a Russian woman by both locals and Russian tourists. A few times I had to raise my voice to show I was not joking about my nationality which is British by the way. In this area of town you can visit the Cathedral. I would suggest visiting once during the day as the sun hits it making the snow sparkle and once again after the sun sets and it lights up in a beautiful shade of yellow/orange.

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Take a look inside the local souvenir shops to find that perfect gift from expensive detailed pottery to mouthwatering chocolate. I knew about this from my Russian friend who told me beforehand.

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If you can handle the cold long enough for a stroll through the many streets lined with Russian architecture, you can stop off at some small shops and restaurants to escape and grab a hot drink and some local food. Try the bread, its delicious.

The Ice Festival 

One word, spectacular!

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We booked our tickets through the hostel. We were picked up and taken there with an English-speaking tour guide. He was very helpful and funny making the experience a high. The night we went the temperature had plummeted to minus 27 degrees Celsius, needless to say we were absolutely freezing from head to toe.

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Trying to take the perfect picture in minus temperatures with thick gloves on was quite the challenge. A method for this is to cut the tip off the glove finger used to press the capture button. Also be careful that your camera can withstand the cold and keep it in your pocket when its not being used. The last thing you want is an ice cube for a camera.

Appropriate Footwear

If you’re thinking you can just rock a pair of UIMAG0660GG boots with think socks and your feet will be warm and that you wont slip and fall, you would be very wrong. Having snow boots is a must! Kazy Hostel where we stayed sold appropriate footwear and accessories to help protect you from the severe cold temperature and for a good price. My snow boots only cost me 70RMB. What is 70RMB against frost bitten toes?!

The Snow Festival

An impressive display of creativity can be found at the Snow Festival. Some of the sculptures are jaw-droppingly huge and detailed. Be prepared to spend a minimum of half a day wondering around but a full day would be better to really take it in.

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Frozen fruit & Harbin Beer

One of the good things about b20160902_181708eing in such a cold place is of course the abundance of frozen fruit, mainly strawberries and the super chilled Harbin Beer. After retuning to the warmth of the indoors, you immediately start to remove layers of clothing due to the temperature change. A small portion of mixed frozen fruit will help you balance you body temperature and what better to wash down that fruit with a beer.

Tiger Sanctuary

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This part of the trip was not planned beforehand. After meeting some people at the Hostel and talking to the staff we decided to go as we had some unexpected free time. It is not hard to find if you just take the bus.

After paying the admission fee you are taken on a minibus through the outdoor roaming area where you will see many tigers taking a stroll or lying in the snow. The minibus is very open but don’t worry as they all have metal bars on them. Maybe just don’t stick your hand out for that close up picture.  After the minibus tour you arrive at a zoo-like area where you can walk around and see the various tigers, lions and ligers doing their own thing.

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Have you ever wanted to feed a tiger? Well look no further! Here you can buy a chicken and lower it into a tiger pit. I personally don’t find it amusing to see an animal tearing another apart but I watched it nonetheless.  Tigers true to form, play with their food like an ordinary house cat but in this situation that poor chicken had noIMAG0874 means of escape.

Before leaving the sanctuary you are able to pay 50RMB to hold and pet a baby tiger. My friend did this and the poor little thing looked terrified but oh so cute. Outside you can have some fun taking pictures on the various tiger related sculptures.


Hop on a plane to Harbin this winter and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Remember to pack your thermal clothing, winter accessories and get yourself some snow boots. You will thank me later.

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Sex on the Island – Qingdao, China

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To play or not to play! That is the question floating around Qingdao.

The Chinese words Qing and Dao can have numerous meanings. A few years ago myself and my friend created our own interpretation based on actual Chinese to make the English name ‘Pleasure Island’. It’s safe to say that Qingdao is a pleasurable place in more ways than one.

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Whether you’re male or female, young or old, student or teacher, gay or straight, Chinese or foreign, your options are endless. The pleasure island is the only jungle that doesn’t have rules. Today you’re the predator, tomorrow you’re the prey.

I was raised in a very open-minded household so the topic of sex was commonly discussed, especially with my mum. Moving to China and adopting an expat family has been no different, and the topic of sex is by far the most common. You won’t hear any complaints from me!

Of course a large number of the female community here in Qingdao are not so open about sex but trust me it doesn’t mean they are not having any. As they say “The quiet ones are usually the worst”, and this holds true in my experience.

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In terms of the male community, I can say with confidence that most can be split into two simple categories: the ones who want to settle down with the locals or the ones who want to plough anything that moves. The latter is frowned upon by the female community but I say “each to their own”. And who is to say that women can’t also have sex with anything that moves, girl power right!

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China is known for not being on board with homosexuality but it is loosely accepted in Qingdao, maybe due to the large number of expats including a variety of sexualities. I can’t personally vouch for this particular community but a number of my friends have told me it’s not so difficult to have sex or date here.

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Ninja Diversity

A friend of mine who is below the average height for a male has become known for his fetish of strangely tall women especially ones who couple that with high heels. Something tells me he liked climbing trees as a kid. Recently he seems to have added a second strand of fetish and now has taken a liking to women who are a good 20+ years older than him.

The Cock-blocker & Cock-tamer

My good friend from Ireland is known as the cock-blocker. As she is gay and most of her female friends are straight, she takes it upon herself to have our backs and the guys here have not only noticed but started to make comments. I think it’s hilarious as some of the guys here have it too easy. The cock-tamer. This is a term we use for girls who take players out of the game and turn them into to loyal, committed men. This can both please and anger the female community depending on who is the cock-tamer and who they tamed.

Sex-capades gone wrong

It doesn’t matter how confident or good-looking you are, respect goes a long way. A small number of the male expats have little to no respect for women but don’t worry we know who they are. One particular guy who only chases the drunk girls in bars has been named and shamed and better yet, he knows it. He is a good-looking, confident guy but just needs to man up and chase a sober girl once in a while. Plus I doubt he has even bought a girl a drink before.

Eskimo brothers/sisters

Living in a tight nit expat community the likelihood that you have shared a sexual partner is almost a guarantee. This isn’t to say that everyone is just sleeping with everyone all the time but it does mean that a lot of people share similar tastes in sexual partners. If you are out here just to have single fun then you don’t need to give this a second thought but if you want to be in a committed relationship, be prepared for people coming out of the woodworks to tell you what they know about your new partners sexual past.

On the prowl, on the pull

On any given night, the bar scene is diverse from cheap and cheerful to pricey and classy. After spending two years here I have figured out which groups tend to go where and this reflects on the sexual hook-ups and relationships. This doesn’t necessarily depend on age as most of us follow the saying “age is just a number” which basically means anything goes.  If you want to just drink yourself silly and take home a random person you can try your “look” at: Angelinas, Loft and LPG on certain nights or if you want a bit more than a hook-up check out: Venue, QBar and The Westin. Of course this is no guarantee and I can’t speak for everyone here. I am just going off my observation and experiences.

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Too good to be true!

“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is”. When you meet that person who just comes across as perfect, do not get your hopes up too high as soon enough their true colours will be revealed and you will be left disappointed. Be true to yourself!

Huangdao boys

Huangdao is a district of Qingdao filled with International students. Most of these students are from different places in Africa which makes them obvious prey for the white girls. Take a look around and you will see for yourself. There is some known rivalry between the Huangdao boys and the Qingdao men which is funny as they mostly come from the same part of the world.

Fresh meat on the street

The victims of Qingdao are the newcomers who tend to get caught in the crossfire. On arrival you should decide whether you are going to be the predator or the prey. To survive your early weeks on the ‘Pleasure Island’ you need to have a strong backbone and self-esteem.



Whether you’re looking for fun, love or something in the middle Qingdao, or my personal name ‘Pleasure Island’ is the place for you. But remember, people talk!

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