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Monday, 25 January 2016

Harbin Part 4: Winter Swimming


We took a leisurely walk along the bank of Songhua River. The river was not only frozen but has been covered by a layer of snow making it look more like a field than a river.
The boats and ferries that docked there were left to hibernate through the cold winter. Mobility of these water transport have come to a total standstill. 
There is a certain mystique about a frozen river.
A group of people have gathered at the edge of the river. Like us, they've come to see one of Harbin's winter attractions.
From the way we were attired, it was obviously cold. The temperature was more than 20 degrees below freezing point.
The attraction we came to see was winter swimming. A pool was created at the edge of Songhua River by breaking the ice at the surface. This process of breaking the ice has to be repeated at intermittent interval to prevent the pool from getting frozen so one could only imagine how cold the water in the pool was. Cold as it was, a team of gutsy men have come to swim and to show how strong and resilient they were to the extreme cold.
These were the ice pieces that were constantly dug out from the pool.
Near the pool stood a gutsy woman dressed in a mere swimwear posing for the visitors. 
I do not know how much these people earn for putting up all these brave acts.
We loitered around the river to see how some locals spend their leisure on a cold wintry day.
These men seemed to be having a great time playing a game of tops on the surface of the frozen river. These tops looked rather unusual.
This is Ron standing on the river which looked more like a snow field. The thought of crossing the river without a bridge was rather intriguing.
Standing on the surface of the frozen river, a scary thought crossed my mind. "What if the ice breaks? I do not think I can survive the cold should I slip into the icy river water". 
Aha! But I knew that was not going to happen.
From where we stood we could see a nice European style building in the distance.
We took a slow walk back to our bus.
Took a breather and a snapshot to remember this path.
....  and this fluffy snow by the bank of Songhua River.

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