Culture Shock! China - A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, 2nd Edition

(Kiana) #1
Enjoying the Culture 191

Harbin: Ice, Fur and Vodka

If you have only one chance to visit the old Russian city of
Harbin, make it during the winter when the Ice Festival is in
full swing. There are a number of ice parks in the city, but
the biggest is across the river that borders the city. A night
spent there includes seeing swimwear-clad men flexing their
muscles in -25°C (-13°F) weather, skidding down long ice
slides, riding bucking bronco barrels and wandering through
castles made entirely of ice. During the day, visit the old
Russian church, try on furs at any number of shops along
the main street and haggle in the markets.

Xian: Soldiers, False Teeth and Mosques

Xian is so old that wherever you put your shovel in the dirt, you
hit something ancient—just ask the farmer that discovered
the Terracotta Warriors. No matter how many times you see
the Warriors, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by a sense
of reverence when you walk through the earth cells that is
home to their military formation frozen in clay for eternity.
Other must-dos in Xian include visiting the Great Mosque
in the centre of town, haggling in the markets that surround
it and eating bread baked on the sides of the coal-flamed
ovens that line the street. Much of the old city wall of Xian still
stands, and there are many discoveries to be made walking
through the streets and alleys near the Wall, from billiards
games played in the open-air to beautiful carved doorways
in tiny alleys that lead into large courtyards.
A great day trip from Xian is out to the Huaqing pool, a
Tang dynasty bath-house set on top of natural hot springs.
It was near here that Chiang Kaishek was supposed to have
been caught by the Communists. In the urgency of his
attempt to escape, he jumped out of the window and was
captured soon after while still in his pajamas and without
false teeth.

The Three Gorges: Hanging Tombs

and Kite Flying

Even after the dams have been flooded, a trip down the
Yangtze through the Three Gorges is a fun and exciting way

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