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Dubbed the City of Snow, Yabuli Town, 193.8 kilometers east of Harbin, the capital of northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province, is characterized by a high concentration of ski resorts, of which the Yabuli Ski Resort is the largest in the nation. The resort includes runs for both tourists and expert skiers, becoming a winter paradise for both competitors and novices. This winter, I made a trip to the resort with some friends.
First Ski Experience
Early on our first morning in Harbin, we drove to the Yabuli Ski Resort. The first item on the agenda after arriving in Yabuli was choosing where to stay. It takes at least 15 minutes to walk from many hotels to the ski resort, which can be a major drawback in such a chilly winter, so we followed a local resident’s advice and stayed in a much closer hotel.
Yabuli literally means “orchard” in Russian. Surrounded by forested mountains, the ski resort is covered with thick snow all winter. As a first-time skier, I put on my boots and fastened them to the skis following the instructions of my coach. Then, with gear weighing 20 kilograms, I trudged up the beginner trail. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I started to slowly glide down. After moving less than 10 meters, I stopped halfway down the trail. When my coach skied to me, his masterly skills were impressive. “You can’t stop in the middle of the trail,” the coach stressed. “If you have to, stop on the side with a less-severe slope, or you can be hit by other skiers.” I practiced several times with the coach’s instructions, and could finally control my skis. Because the beginner trail had a gentle gradient, I didn’t ski too fast.
As night fell, my friends and I had dinner at a local quadrangle residence, which was immersed with decorative style of northeastern China’s rural residences of the 1960s and 70s. Its southeast chamber was decorated like a hunter’s cottage, while the northeast one was more festively furnished. Sitting around a table on a warm brick bed in its VIP room, we enjoyed traditional local delicacies. Although the chilly wind blew outside, we were filled with warmth. A common local dish, stewed chicken with mushrooms and vermicelli, warmed our stomachs as well as our hearts. As one course was served after another, we began singing old songs and sipping liquor.