Advice for trip to Harbin


flyzaway

New Member
Oct 26, 2009
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Singapore
#1
Hi,

I'm planning to go to Harbin/Changchun/Shenyang/dalian on CNY with my parents and group tour. My first winter trip! :)
Have read through some sites that it's going to be very cold on January that may reach -20C.

Need some advice on:

1. Clothing - Read some info about the layers which are Long johns, Sweater , vest/down jacket , winter jacket. Do you have any recomended brand or shop? How bout bottoms? is jeans enough after longjohns?

2. Travel agency - was planning to go with chan bro, do you have any experience going to harbin with chan bro before? how is it?

3. Camera - Wanted to take nice pics with my 60D + my fave tamron 17-55, but can it survive with a super cold winter in Harbin? i afraid it break down after the trip. My parents going to use and suggest me to use digital camera instead. Since i'm a (small size) girl, digicam will be easier for me to take it in and out of the bag in cold temp than 60D but of course the quality wont be as good as DSLR. Read somewhere digicam wont be as hardy as DSLR in cold temp. Please advice! :)
 

simonsng

New Member
Jan 29, 2003
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www.aquaticquotient.com
#3
Was there begining of Jan 2011.

1. Clothing
- Layering is a must, but you need to keep your hands, neck and feet warm too. There is no heater in the coach, so you will feel like a popsicle :)
- Jean and long john wouldn't help much and certainly not sufficient, you need thermal warm, long wool socks Try uniqlo.
- Dont forget it protect your face, your nose will sure to run. Bring along moisturizer for your face, lips, hands and legs.
- If you have a high cut, hiking boots (gortex will be best) wear it. They will have a stopover to help equipment the ill-prepared tourist.
- Bring a good set of glove (not wind proof glove), those used for skiing, a thick scarf and a well-insulated hear gear or beanie

2. Travel agency
- I used Hongtai, don't think it will varies much between agencies.

3. Camera
- Not to worry, just bring your charger and charge at night. I brought my 40d with battery grip and it didn't fail me

What Alpc said is correct, the wind factor is your worse enemy. A good down jacket and a outer layer is a must.
Day time is still bearable because of the sun, if you tend to get sun burn easily, put some sunblock, at night, the temp drops below -20 degree.

ps. If you have a thermal flask, fill up with hot tea is a blessing. Especially the nights that you will be out looking at ice carving. For chemical warmer, don't get them there.. the quality is so-so, but it is cheaper.
 

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kmteo183

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Mar 14, 2009
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#5
You may want to consider buying proper walking boots for the Harbin Ice Sculpture show. They are rather inexpensive if you buy in Harbin itself and definitely a worthwhile investments to prevent accidental falls. A couple of years ago, one of friends fell and hit his head. It resulted in a blood clot which required surgery.

Also, the temperature is likely to be extremely cold and may reach minus 30 degrees Celcius. So, you may want to ensure that you have enough warm clothings.
 

Alpc

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Oct 10, 2002
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#6
Simonsng,

You mean the wind proof gloves does not help? ;p

I had the skiing gloves before but that still does not keep my fingers warm even in single digit temperature!!! Now I am looking for layers, base layer glove then mitts. I was told mitts are better in keeping warm than gloves.

But as the song goes... I still haven't found what I was looking for...
 

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flyzaway

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Oct 26, 2009
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#7
Wow, thx you so much for the tips.

I read somewhere that mitt is better than gloves too, but wont it be difficult if we want to grab somthing when wearing mitts?

what is the price range for boots in Harbin?

How bout using iphone in Harbin? :D

btw thank you for the link Daoyin! so i could have some rough idea ~
 

Alpc

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Oct 10, 2002
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#8
I guess it depends on what u intend to hold... Most of the time we do use all 4 fingers to hold anyway, except perhaps on the cam shutter trigger - so base layer would help...
 

nuts

Senior Member
Jan 21, 2002
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#9
......
I had the skiing gloves before but that still does not keep my fingers warm even in single digit temperature!!! Now I am looking for layers, base layer glove then mitts. I was told mitts are better in keeping warm than gloves.

But as the song goes... I still haven't found what I was looking for...
Same situation... haven't really found what I'm looking for after all these years.... I think I've own like 6 different kinds of gloves already! haha... and yes, definitely layering too
 

HarryLau

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Sep 13, 2009
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#10
I have been there before. A village famous for snow view near Harbin. Many people go there for taking photo. Share an experience studied there. For you camera, my suggestion is bring a plastic bag along with you. Better with a zipper one. Put your camera in side before you enter a room. Do not open it until your lens and body get warm enough.
 

kiama

Senior Member
May 26, 2002
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#12
dun forget about headgear and ear muffs. Prepare some ginger tea, those instant packet type.
No need to buy those cold weather shoes in SG, very expensive and are not as good as those which u can get there cheaply.
If u are gonna travel by train, be careful of you luggage. My shaver and toiletries were stolen from backpack's pockets, they'll take anything given the chance.
 

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tecnica

Senior Member
Dec 26, 2004
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#13
The wind chill will make you feel like your face is cracking and ears are gonna fall off. So make sure you get ready your beanies, ear muffs, scarfs etc.

Stock up on moisturizer lip balm too and prepare for some nose bleed especially when you just wake up in the morning.
 

flyzaway

New Member
Oct 26, 2009
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#15
The wind chill will make you feel like your face is cracking and ears are gonna fall off. So make sure you get ready your beanies, ear muffs, scarfs etc.

Stock up on moisturizer lip balm too and prepare for some nose bleed especially when you just wake up in the morning.

OMG :eek:

Nose Bleed? crackin face? I never thought it will be very scary to have nose bleed!!

I was planning to get at least a pair of boots from singapore and buy extra boots when i get there.

Now i need to extra prepare then :sweat:

anybody has experiece with iphone in cold weather? do i need to put most of electronic stuffs in ziplock bag?
 

Alpc

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Oct 10, 2002
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#16
Actually I get nose bleed in any country experiencing winter - not necessary just this super cold place. It's a 'can't help' situation, but good thing is - it does not last due to the cold or less humidity in those places.
 

albertsim

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Nov 4, 2009
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#17
Flyzaway,

Can see that you are getting a wee bit overly worry about the weather and preparation for your trip to Harbin.

I went Harbin — Jilin in Jan 2010, the weather was -20 to -30C for the 11 days when I was there. In fact, the first day when I touch down at Harbin, I only have a long-sleeve T-shirt and a wind-breaker with me. It was about -15C that day but no wind. Well, our tour bus have warm air and the driver was very kind to have brought along a big termal flask, so we always have warm water to drink.

Throughout the journey, I put on 2 layers of fleece long johns, long sleeve T-shirt, a fleece jacket follow by the outer wind breaker. Many friends and one of my colleague who is a native from Harbin told me to get a Down Jacket but I didn't because those layering proved enough for me. The only thing you need to watch out is if you are going to 长白山, put on your mask all the time. I took out my mask for less than 5 minutes and almost got disfigured by frost-bite. Luckily the local tour guide was experienced and I was saved.

The reason you are asked to put your camera + lens in zip-lock bag is to prevent condensation when you enter a warm room/bus from open air area. Condensation may damage your lens and sensors and that is what you don't want to happen when you are there enjoying and taking photos. I have used a phone (not iphone though) during my journey but nothing happen to my phone.

Not sure about your skin, but instead of moisturizer, I used skin olive oil for my whole body after bath in the morning and at night.

One more important thing which was omit from the thread is put on a pair of Sunglasses. Snow are known to reflect sun ray and that could sometimes hurt your eyes if you didn't take care.

Anyway, don't worry so much and enjoy your first trip to Winter Wonderland!
 

tecnica

Senior Member
Dec 26, 2004
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#18
flyzaway said:
OMG :eek:

Nose Bleed? crackin face? I never thought it will be very scary to have nose bleed!!

I was planning to get at least a pair of boots from singapore and buy extra boots when i get there.

Now i need to extra prepare then :sweat:

anybody has experiece with iphone in cold weather? do i need to put most of electronic stuffs in ziplock bag?
Er ya, only when the wind blow luh. Otherwise should be alright. Nose bleed is not those blood flowing kind, instead the blood will dry up very fast. When you wake up, your nose will be blocked by dry blood clots.

Keep your phone and extra batt in your pants pocket, it'll keep them warm and offers better batt life.

And yeah, get sunglasses. Not sure why but the winter sun in China is quite strong.
 

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SK1968

Senior Member
Jun 20, 2009
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Changi
#19
Hi flyzaway, let me help here..

1. Clothing - As others have shared, you have to layer. The inner most (long johns) got to be tight fitting. It can be thin, either of cotton or polyester material but must be tight fitting. Leaving too much gap between the material and your skin is not going to help. The tightness should be something close to the feeling of wearing stocking. The outer most layer must be a wind (water) proof jacket but need not be of down feather material as that would be very bulky. In between you can just wear the number of layers enough to keep you warm, and that depends on individual. Woolen sweater or of fleece material should be ok.
For old folks who have little hair on the head, make sure they wear caps (wind proof if possible) as the head/forehead loses body heat easily. Also, if the outer jacket doesn't have a very high collar, then a thick scarf to cover the neck is necessary as cold wind blowing constantly at the exposed neck will easily lead to cough. If you have the scarf, it can also be pulled up to cover the mouth/nose just as Albertsim has decribed.
For the hands, those not taking photos can wear 2 layers of woolen gloves and put their hands in the pockets of their jackets. For you, normal skiing gloves are too thick to operate the camera. You will have to look for those thinner wind proof gloves. Problem with those is that they are not very good at keeping your hands warm. So you need big pockets in your jacket for your hands too....chemical heat packs in the pockets will be very useful :)
For the legs, normally people can survive with long johns and jeans but to be safe, you should also wear a layer of wind (water) proof pants. As you may see already, the problem is all about the wind.
For the feet, you will have to get shoes with good rubber soles. Not only for better grip, but also for insulation. If possible, get those wind proof boots. What you can do is to probably buy the boots the locals wear when you arrive (the tour guide will be happy to bring you there). They are much much cheaper ($30-50) and totally adapted for local use. Some even have retractable metal spikes in the sole to help with the grip on very slippery surfaces. Add a layer of cotton insole ($3-5) to further improve the insulation. They are cheap and will go a long way in making your feet very comfortable in the icy cold. If your old folks are walking on ice/snow for the first time....tell them to go sloooooow...it is really very slippery. Wear woolen socks.

2. Travel agency - I went with Super Travel. The tour was very well executed.

3. Camera - As Albertsim has explained, the main thing to watch is condensation, be it on the lens or the sensor. I suggest you should go with your 600D as normal compact (digicam) is unlikely to survive too long, if at all in that kind of cold temperature. That's because they usually don't have ovf and the screen sucks up battery juice like nothing. The battery is also puny compared to those made for the DSLR so they go dead easily. Bring extra batt for the 600D though, and always ensure full charge in the night to avoid disapointment during the day. Also, just in case your lens gets fogged up, dun wipe, use your blower to blow at the lens. It will get rid of the condensation without the messiness :)

Other things to note.

1. Not advisable to shower in the first or second day if you are not very used to the cold. Some people will fall sick and others will develop rashes.
2. If your throat feel very dry at night, hang a wet towel in the bed room to humidify the air.
 

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flyzaway

New Member
Oct 26, 2009
168
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Singapore
#20
wow thank you so much SK1968 & albertsim. the info helps me a lot!!
I have a boots that i bought in Winter Time last time, but there is now metal claw attached, can it be bought seperately in China?
I'm going next month! yahoo~ :)
 

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