Nat­u­ral at­trac­tion

A run­ning event brings at­ten­tion to a park in Gansu prov­ince.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at yangfeiyue@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Acrys­tal-clear cas­tle carved from ice. Red-crowned cranes that swim through the skies. White wa­ter­falls frozen in time. Lit­er­ally. A red-clad Santa in a Christ­mas vil­lage is, in­deed, a jolly old soul. (The ques­tion is: how packed is his sack with black coal?)

These are the col­ors that im­buethe hues ofHei­longjiang prov­ince’s win­ter­time pal­ette.

It’s an ap­peal forged by freez­ing tem­per­a­tures that takes the shape of ice for­ma­tions, one as unique as the count­less snowflakes that cover its ter­rain.

The white stuff ar­rived in Mohe county early last month and typ­i­cally stays 120 days.

Win­ter tourism surged last year, when China’s north­ern­most prov­ince in­tro­duced five routes, fea­tur­ing ski­ing, hot springs, sea­sonal land­scapes and po­lar ex­pe­ri­ences in such des­ti­na­tions as Yab­uli, Mohe, Daqing andQiqi­har.

Tourists paid 9 mil­lion vis­its to the prov­ince dur­ing the last Spring Fes­ti­val, up 31 per­cent com­pared with the same pe­riod of the pre­vi­ous year, the pro­vin­cial tourism au­thor­ity re­ports. Tourism in­come grew 14 per­cent to 10.7 bil­lion yuan ($1.6 bil­lion).

Ma­jor sites have ex­pe­ri­enced grow­ing in­fluxes.

Sun Is­land’s snow-sculp­ture ex­hi­bi­tion re­ceived half a mil­lion vis­its, up 8.3 per­cent yearon-year. Yab­uli’s ski re­sorts got 450,000, up 26.5 per­cent. And 560,000 vis­its were recorded in Xuex­i­ang vil­lage, up 7.24 per­cent.

So, Hei­longjiang is in­tro­duc­ing new itin­er­ar­ies to draw even more so­journ­ers this year.

“We’re pay­ing more at­ten­tion to the in­te­gra­tion of ice, snow and cul­ture,” says Hei­longjiang’s tourism au­thor­ity di­rec­tor, Xi Dong­guang.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have or­ga­nized over 100 ma­jor events, fea­tur­ing sports, cul­ture and pho­tog­ra­phy.

Ma­jor parks will host ac­tiv­i­ties. Trav­el­ers can zip along frozen wa­ter via ice chutes, dogsleds and snow­mo­biles.

Jingpo Lake of­fers ice fish­ing. Vis­i­tors can hunt in Heihe. Yichun’s forests will host a cross-coun­try race.

Yichun will also stage a pho­tog­ra­phy com­pe­ti­tion to cap­ture rime-glazed land­scapes, snow-draped forests and frigid vil­lages in the Great Khin­ganMoun­tains.

An in­ter­na­tional oil-paint­ing trade cen­ter re­cently opened in­Hei­longjiang’s cap­i­tal, Harbin. It claims to be the largest of its kind in north­east­ern Asia and hosts pieces from Rus­sia, Poland and the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of Korea.

Vis­i­tors can buy works, watch artists cre­ate and learn more about the genre in gen­eral.

Heng­dao­hezi town’s vis­i­tors can ex­pe­ri­ence Rus­sian cus­toms and architecture, and east­ern China’s rail­ways’ his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment.

North­ern Euro­pean Christ­mas cul­ture finds a home in the Far East in­Mohe’s Beiji vil­lage — China’s north­ern­most set­tle­ment.

Mu­dan­jiang’s Jingpo Lake in­te­grates an­i­mistic tra­di­tions with a bit­ing-cold cli­mate this De­cem­ber, when its Shaman Vil­lage opens as a new at­trac­tion.

The des­ti­na­tion as­pires to in­fuse tra­di­tional Manchu cus­toms with win­ter­time en­ter­tain­ment.

Trav­el­ers can stay in wooden cab­ins and visit sac­ri­fi­cial al­tars, prac­tice archery and ride in horse-drawn open sleighs. (It’s yet to be seen if there will be ac­tual jin­gle bells.)

They can dine on Manchu cui­sine, in­clud­ing hot­pot and fish-soup rice.

Harbin’s Ice and Snow World will this year add elec­tric carts and sled chairs. Vis­i­tors can roll over ice in in­flat­able tubes this win­ter.

The sea­sonal at­trac­tion will con­struct a new “lit­tle sib­ling” that can op­er­ate year-round.

And it’ll build ice chutes that blast down moun­tain­sides this year.

The city’s Volga Manor will of­fer classes in such Rus­sian cus­toms as craft­ing nest­ing dolls and bak­ing. It will also open a Rus­sian art mu­seum and a ski re­sort.

A large-scale “win­ter world” in Hu­lan River’s wet­lands will open to the public.

Vis­i­tors can ski over 200,000 square me­ters, ex­plore a 25-me­ter-high ar­ti­fi­cial ice­berg and­zoom­dow­nan 800-me­ter ice chute. It’ll also host vir­tual-re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ences and au­to­mo­bile shows.

Vis­i­tors can ex­plore Daqing on hov­er­craft that glide across the snow. And they can play ice golf or dip into steamy hot springs.

Qiqi­har will get ath­letic with hockey, and speed and fig­ure skat­ing com­pe­ti­tions. The city will also stage cul­tural per­for­mances on snowy fields.

Wu­dalianchi will open a 30,000-square-me­ter hot spring area. Vis­i­tors can play golf in the snow, and hike wood­lands and vol­ca­noes.

They can also do ice fish­ing and ride snow­mo­biles.

In­deed, Hei­longjiang has upped its ante as a jack­pot for win­ter­time trav­el­ers look­ing for thrills and chills. It in­creas­ingly seems a great place to cash in on the cold.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

From left to right: A vis­i­tor holds a fish caught at Jingpo Lake in Mu­dan­jiang; hunt­ing in the for­est of Heihe; ice struc­tures in Harbin’s Ice and Snow World.

Top: A win­ter land­scape in Xunke county in Heihe. Above: Red-crowned cranes at Zha­long Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve in Qiqi­har.

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