Since last winter, when I went to Harbin in the North East of China, I have been fascinated by ice, there was a huge river and it was frozen solid, cars were driving across and people were generally enjoying the expansive frozen space to walk, whipping spinning tops and ice skating, no ice yachts, but one can dream.
This year I have been walking along a frozen river lined with trees each day. The river was frozen solid during those weeks that I have been walking that way, and I’m sure for 3 months or so, that the temperature has been freezing or below here in Beijing, it’s damn cold, but I like it, mostly, just wrap up and your fine.
There are definite benefits to freezing cold weather, one being skiing, I discovered last year how accessible skiing is here or just outside Beijing, it’s cheap to, from 89rmb for a day, including bus, basic equipment hire and slope entry. Though the snow is not naturally occurring, due to the lack of moisture this north in China, the resorts are sprayed with man made snow, it works, but is quite icy, I paid for it by attempting to snowboard and both times it took 3 days to stop aching from the hard ice landings, on my spine and wrists, last time even feeling dizzy and nauseated from it, next time I swear, I’ll have a lesson and hire the arse teddy bear (don’t ask) snow boarding is faster and more difficult than skiing, but I’m up for the challenge, preferably not the sickness, though, next year maybe.
360 view here:
Ok, so back to the ice and my morning walks, I noticed that people were skating on the river, despite signs telling them not to walk on the ice, all up the river, at these times I’m very happy to see flexibility and resilience in attitude towards rules, treating them as a cautionary notice rather than an out and out “do not” order, common sense is also a very good guide, and it is patronising and dehumanising maybe, to be so controlling of us humans. So people, every morning, up until recently that is, were happily skating in two locations along the river, on my short walk, how great, a free ice ink, right outside home, unfortunately I didn’t have skates, but enjoyed seeing Chinese people skating about, quite seriously, a serious pleasure to be sure.
I wonder about the history of skating here, I imagine it has been continued winter on winter, throughout Chinese history, can I find some old photos or art which features it, let’s see.
So apparently there is a record of the Manchu warriors skating up to 350km in one day, to battle with their enemies, before they took power and set Beijing as the capitol of China, when skating become a sport and performance, during the Qing Dynasty.
Feel free to research more, I’d be interested to hear what you can find out, mean while I’ll be writing more poetry and focusing on other topics.
Thanks for reading, Sam