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A Visit to China’s “Arctic Village”

2013-01-07 17:54:19

(China Today)


Polar Days

Coming to Arctic Village during the Summer Solstice allows one to experience the “polar day” – almost.

The sky isn’t light for 24 hours a day around the Solstice, but nights are only about one to two hours in duration. A related phenomenon is the aurora borealis, though its occurrence is extremely rare. Some local elders say they have seen it only once or twice in their whole life. Most young residents haven’t seen it. I didn’t have my hopes up of catching a glimpse during my stay, and alas, I wasn’t lucky.

I woke up on my final morning at 2:30 am in time for daybreak. The roosters were crowing. I felt a bit sorry for them; how did they adapt to such wildly fluctuating sunshine hours? The night before we had waited till almost midnight for a chance to photograph the moon. Thick clouds routed our plan, however.

But now, in the very early morning, the moon was shining bright. The village was asleep, and the gentle lapping of the river was about the only sound we could make out. The only light, for presumably hundreds of miles around, was the effervescent glow of the earth’s natural satellite. It was the perfect setting for some great photography.

After “shooting the moon” – pardon the pun – we started our “polar day.” We walked toward the river as the early morning sun awakened in the east. The sunlight was dimmed, however, by a thin veil of fog that hung low over the land.

At half past three, the sun finally made its appearance over the mountains on the horizon. Fishermen already crowded the riverbank. Passenger ferries, berthed along a jetty, were waiting for the day’s first passengers. The ferries’ silhouettes grew stronger with the rising sun.

In this northernmost Chinese village, at such an early hour, I watched the slow slide of the night into day. At one moment the sun and the moon shone in the same sky, competing for prominence. I knew who would lose, but the moment was no less breathtaking.

For me personally, taking time out to leave the city behind and revel in nature’s beauty is incredibly important. In nature we can pause, relax and reflect. The daily worries of city life always seem trivial in retrospect. And in my opinion, nowhere is the opportunity for reflection in stunning natural surrounds better than in China’s “Artic Village.”

Beiji Village is the highest geographical point in China, where the average temperature in the three winter months hovers around -35°C.

Travel Tips:

1. The distance from Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, to Mohe County is 1,200 kilometers. Flying is the best option, but trains do also run. There are shuttle buses from Mohe to the Arctic Village. The journey time is two hours.

2. Better make reservations early in summertime, the peak season. There are no big hotels, only family inns with a limited number of rooms.

3. Mohe features a sub-arctic climate, with long, cold winters and short, hot summers. Summer temperatures can exceed 30°C (86°F), while its winters are the coldest in China, with temperatures dropping to -40°C (-40°F). Summer nights can be on the chilly side, so best bring a warm jacket. In wintertime, rug up with down-padded clothes.

4. In wintertime, bring skid-proof shoes. Roads are cleared of snow, but it is still very icy. Always be careful when walking.

5. It is very dry in wintertime, and heating ensures indoor temperatures stay quite high. Bring moisturizing cream to protect the skin. Outside, don’t touch metal objects with wet hands – they will stick. Don’t lick anything, either, for the same reason.

6. Bring thick casings for your camera and cell phone in winter, and keep the devices close to your body. Extremely low temperatures result in short battery life. On stepping indoors, place your camera in a plastic bag to protect the lens from frosting over.

Source from China Today

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