May 18, 2008

Harbin, China

That's where we'll be for the next couple of years, at least during the school year. So where in the world is Harbin? It is the northernmost school that our organization is associated with. Harbin is located in the Heilongjiang province and is sandwiched between Russia and North Korea.

As you might have guessed, it is extremely cold. Here is a quote from the Lonely Planet Travel Guides that best captures the climate of Harbin:
"...China's northernmost province, Heilongjiang (Black Dragon River) is known for its sub-arctic climate. Come January, with its -30 C weather and howling Siberian gales, the locals sensibly huddle around their stoves, swathed in thickly padded clothing, quaffing the local firewater. Activity slows to a crunch in this snowflake-spitting weather, which hibernating animals bypass the season completely.

Welcome, believe it or not, to tourist season. Don't be put off - if you come prepared for weather conditions similar to winter on Pluto, the city of Harbin puts on a sparkling spectacle of ice-encrusted buildings, winter sports and its famous Ice Lantern Festival...."

We are actually really excited to be in the city teaching at Harbin Engineering University. We are on a team of 8 other adults and 3 children (not counting ourselves). So the team is a large community, which we really enjoy tremendously. We are eager to get our warmest gear packed (mostly purchased because we have never experienced cold like this). More information, including photos of the university, will be coming soon, but for now enjoy some fast facts about the city:

  • Population: 9,748,400
  • Avg High Temp in January: 6 F
  • Avg Low Temp in January: -15 F
  • Avg High Temp in July: 81 F
  • Avg Low Temp in July: 63 F
  • Western Stores: KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Wal-Mart (2), Metro
  • Cuisine: Hearty breads and sausage
  • History: Influenced by Russians
  • Attractions: St. Sofia Orthodox Church, annual Ice Lantern Festival

Here is a map that will help you place Harbin. Notice it in comparison to Nanchang, the city we first taught in. We have moved from the tropics of Nanchang to the arctic cold of Harbin. You are always "warmly" welcome to visit us in Harbin.

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