There’s no stranger Christmas…

A huge snow sculpture of a bear holding a camera

As the 12th night is upon us, I am reflecting on Christmases past and present.

There truly was no stranger Christmas than the year we went to China. Man, I loved that country – but it’s an oddly fantastic place to celebrate the festive period. It’s a curious mixture of intense commercialism and hidden moments of incredible tradition. One minute you are in Beijing surrounded by every brand and commercial icon possible, the next you are in a hidden hutong wandering the alleyways of centuries old china. You can do everything from riding an ice bike on a frozen lake (such fun!) to running 100m on the Olympic track surrounded by 20 foot high Olympic mascots. On Christmas day I got my shoes heeled (long story!), had a swim on the top of a skyscraper, ate non-Chinese food (!), accidentally wandered into a five lane carriageway (aka motorway) with no escape and learned to appreciate Chinese beer.

However, no place was more crazy than Harbin – a curious outpost where the cultures of Russia and China blend with extreme cold. Here our main aim was the ice festival. We spent our days wandering between 30 feet high moomins and lifesize trains made out of snow. We watched China’s version of Takeshi’s Castle be filmed (hilarious) and became addicted to Korean soap operas. We rubber tubed down  the river bank, watched lorries and cars use the frozen lake as a highway and took cable

The experience might have lacked any Christmas tradition, but it was certainly novel!

Further photographs from our China trip are available in the Taraji Blue China photo gallery. 

Tow people walk over the frozen lake

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