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Monday, January 31, 2011

Stop Two: Harbin

I've been looking forward to coming to Harbin for a long time, & I'm finally here! & yes, it's friggin' cold outside! Even the inside of my nose is frozen! The good news is that, unlike in Shanghai, all the buildings here have central heating, so it's not so bad to be inside.

I'm staying a Kazy Hostel, which has taken over an old synagogue. It's an imposing old Russian style building, which you see a lot of up here since Harbin is so close to the Russian border. Although there are several foreigners staying at the hostel, there are also a lot of Chinese guests here, which is unusual, especially during Chinese New Year when everyone goes home for the holiday.

I took a walk around the vacinity of the hostel this morning & wound up at a gorgeous Russian style church. I love churches, temples, pagodas, & all manner of religious installations. I'm not a religious person, but I love to go inside these buildings & marvel at the architecture. When I go inside a functioning house of worship, I can feel the spirituality in the air. It's palpable & humbling.

This church, however, is no longer a functioning house of worship. Instead, it's been turned into a museum. The architecture is still amazing, but I definitely noticed the absence of spirituality when I went inside.


Even though I had on all my super warm anti-winter clothing, I had been out in the cold for several hours, so after seeing the church, I headed back to the hostel to warm up. I'll be going back out tonight with a tour hosted by the hostel to see the Ice Festival, the motive of coming to Harbin in the first place. Hopefully I can snap some good shots before I turn into an icicle.

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