Winter is here, and Beijing has been cold enough to keep all but the hardiest and most well insulated Beijingers indoors recently. My apartment is well-heated (thank you to the Soviet building engineers and builders who put up the five story complex in the 1960s), and I can sit indoors in a tank top and shorts while watching people shiver in their jackets outside.
Tomorrow morning I'll leave my warm cocoon to head further north, up near the border to Siberia, to Harbin - a city known for its brutal winters. My friends and I plan to see classical Russian architecture, visit a Siberian tiger preserve, drink vodka and take part in the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, an annual event featuring full-sized buildings designed out of blocks of ice lit from within.
Hand and footwarmers are already packed. Several are located in my carry-on bag so that I can access them easily before we leave the plane on our arrival.