Harbin and Japan Jan 2018 travel blog

Last night we met Sam at 5p and walked the 3 short blocks to the park where the ice festival was held from 1963 to 1999. Although the park is considerably smaller, the sculptures are just as intricate and beautiful. Here there are no changing lights. The main path around the park is lined with 5-6ft. Sculptures unlit but with well-lit columns between them. And there are lots of fishes, turtles, dragons, birds flowers and such. There are brightly lit pagodas and towers, an arched walkway, a pink and purple maze with a slide in the middle that was lots of fun. Little iced over pools had tiny...3 to 4 ft sculpturs..on them. We came upon an area when we went through an arch of huge blocks of ice being carved by university students...some with gloves on, some without... we stood and watched in the -28C clear night as saws, a tool with a long handle and sharp blade at the end were used. Another melted ice into flowing fins of a fish. And Sam explained. We went on back through the arch and on down the path.

We passed a dragon, not a part of the show. His time would come in the summer when he will be covered in flowers.

Once back at the huge boat by the glowing carved entry building we left and walked the short 3 blocks to the Walking Street. Two blocks along it we turned heading for a Russian restaurant..Tatoc's. But we decided to go to an upscale Chinese restaurant. So Sam looked pleased and turned down towards our hotel. He took us in a doorway past guardian lions up 3 flights of stairs to a very busy restaurant. He negotiated and the 40 min. wait disappeared. We wete seated at a large round table with a family of four....the Chinese way...no one waits. Sam helped us order. We had a green squash and a plate of chicken and black mushrooms with steamed rice. The chicken arrived complete with feet, small black mushrooms and glass noodles and Gord enjoyed it immensely. Everyone had a good laugh at my reaction...just no, no way. I ordered a plate of sweet and sour pork, their specialty. Thin slices of pork were dipped in a rice flour batter, deep fried and served in a less sweet, more sour sauce than in Canada. It was delicious with the steamed rice and squash. After our meal....paid for in advance....we followed Sam's directions (he hadn't shared this meal) and easily found our hotel.

Today...a travel day...clear and cold...-27 C ...we arrived early at the airport. We waited in a crowded room outside the entrance to departures. At 12.30p we checked in, went through security and waited. Our Asiana flights were delayed first in Harbin and then Seoul. It was 11.50p when we landed and 1.30a when we arrived at the Shiba park hotel in Tokyo. Tokyo's lights were beautiful as the taxi made its way across the city. The Tokyo Tower could be seen from afar. We went around past it...lit in oranges and whites...down a couple of blocks and sunk gratefully into our beds at 1.30a. 5.30a came far too early. We were picked up at 7a to drive back across the city to Sunrise Tours.

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