Welcome to the damned coldest place on earth. At least, in China. The Ice Festival in Harbin, which, for those of you who have some sort of idea of geography, lies somewhere below Vladivostok, Russia. Harbin resides in the far northeast of China, way above Beijing, and is basically reknowned for one other thing, other than the cold.

The Ice Festival.

It has to be seen to be believed. During the autumn of every year, the town hires the usual yearly people to go to the river and cut up blocks of ice, which, they then consruct all sorts of things with. Things, such as statutes, and roads, and slides, and buidlings, and, well, little mountains. And they light them up at night. The Ice Festival brings visitors from all over China, during its duration, which is usually late November through February. A lot of work, for a short show time. But, even though it doesn't last for long, it is certainly spectacular.

I was lucky when I was there. The temperatures hovered at about minus 20 degrees Centigrade. For those of you who use Farenheit, you figure out the conversion. Yes, it was a pleasant warm -20 C when I was there, in the middle of February 2001. The temperature usually hovers around minus 45 degrees Centigrade. Damn cold. Really damn cold.

So cold, that the batteries in your little digital camera don't last all that long. So cold, that exposed skin gets frostbitten with the slightest breeze. So cold, that you dare not attempt to go to the bathroom....

But, it's quite the place. And since a good deal of you either won't ever be going to Harbin to experience this, or, are too smart to expose yourself to such environments, I've decided to make an extra large section of photos for your enjoyment. Click on the thumbnails in the following sections to see an enlarged image. Words cannot describe the Harbin Ice Festival. Pictures can.