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Harbin Trip Day 2 - ICE! (And lots of it)

Up and had breakfast at our hotel. Typical buffet style that I've experienced in other Chinese hotels. Foreigner count has been much higher than I've seen in other places. Already at six this morning just in our hotel.

This hotel is called Sofitel. Their slogan is "Live the French way". Okay then. Just seems like a typical hotel in China. Lobby has a lot of Christmas decorations. Very classy feel to it. We had to do our traditional "Aiyun in the lobby" pose.

In other news we've made plans for spring break in early April. We decided on Chengdu to go see the giant pandas. That's just living the good life. Planning the next vacation while on the current one. I like to have something to look forward to.

Time to get bundled up and brave the cold. We're headed to Snow and Ice World. We will spend the whole day there. Layers and more layers of clothes. Spent about $300USD buying supplies for this. Going to wear them all.

Arrived and followed the crowd to get in line for the Big Slide. It's the thing everyone does. Aiyun bought the VIP pass ahead of time. I tried to do that, but couldn't without a passport. I had to buy the regular ticket which meant we had to stand in the longest line I've ever experienced. Total time in line? Five hours almost to the minute. Not kidding.

We got to the top after our long wait...

The wait was for this:

Totally worth it. Being in line was fun. Met some people. Watched conflicts as some tried to push ahead of others. Major dramas broke out when people left line to go to the bathroom and then tried to shove back ahead of others to regain their place in line. The couple in front of us were newlyweds. Major credit to the gentlemen who calmly told one guy that the security guard would be best to talk to when it came to the rules.

That was the view of fifteen rows of people snaking back and forth, and then deep out into the park. The timing worked out really well actually. Just when we got to the top and headed down the slide it was dark enough that the park was lit up. This was us just after the slide looking back up where we came from. Bonus: right when we got to the top it started to snow lightly.

Food. We needed to eat. We found the restaurant building and found a place that had tables we could sit at. There was lots of fast food available, but we didn't want that. The restaurant we picked specialized in Iron Pot Stew. It's a variety of hot pot, but more popular in the north. Giant iron pot in the table heated from below. Aiyun also picked a speciality cornbread. Check this out.

Those little corn dumplings were awesome for soaking up the stew broth. So good. Our stew was goose, potatoes, onions, and a variety of other spices. One of the ginger chunks I bit into was awesome after cooking in the broth for a long time.

Another fun interaction with a couple and their young daughter at dinner. She doesn't like math, but was excited to meet an English speaker. Last thing she said to me with a big smile as we left was "Welcine to China!" Really reinforced to me that we learn to hate as we age. She was precious.

As we left Dinner there was a concert of sorts just starting in the main food court. Second song they played was a beautiful version of Edelweiss.

We got all bundled up again and headed out to explore all the cool buildings. Have a peak. Truthfully though, pictures can't really represent how stunningly beautiful this ice city was.

We rang this bell together. I was supposed to make a wish, but was so concentrated on making the loudest possible gong with it I forgot. However, after we made that baby sing I had a Chinese guy give me the nod. Yeah, the big American beast hit the crap out of that sucker.

The giant Ferris wheel wasn't open early in the day due to high winds. However, we noticed it moving as we were nearing burnout levels. So we started following the line to get in queue. And it kept going. And going. And going. We got to the end and the worker there speculated that we had about a four hour wait. Hard pass. Oh well, choosing to focus on the really cool fun parts of our day was my choice.

There were tons of activities going on all over the place. Snowmobile races. A giant ice piano that played when you jumped on the keys. Kids being pulled all over the place In inner tubes my their parents. Too much tanghulu for me to pass up. And of course Angel Wings for my girl.

A super fun and memorable day. Favorite parts for me were the slide, dinner, interacting with people in line, just sitting at times and taking in the spectacular ice buildings, and spending the full day with Aiyun.

Too many activities already planned for tomorrow. Hoping to hit a Russian restaurant tomorrow. We've been hitting up our taxi drivers for advice there. Wish us luck.

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