Located in China’s northeast corner, Harbin might be considered the country’s unofficial capital of winter—throughout January, temperatures can dip as low as -36 degrees Fahrenheit.
Its chilly temperatures and long, harsh winters filled with snow have earned it the nickname Ice City, but Harbin is far from dark and dead (even in the coldest winter months), thanks to the dazzling International Ice and Snow Festival held in the city each year.
A multi-million dollar production encompassing 8 million square feet of the city, the festival turns 31 this year and is expected to draw over one million visitors during its nearly two-month long run.
It’s one of the four largest ice and snow festivals in the world, alongside celebrations held in Sapporo, Norway and Quebec (though Harbin bills itself as the single largest ice festival in the world).
It’s a bumpy ride, and it takes over an hour to go 12 miles.
But the trip from Shixi to Huangcunjing in rural Sichuan is one of the last regular passenger steam train services in the world – and a lifeline to locals, who could not travel to nearby towns without it
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Villagers ride a local coal powered steam train at a station in the town of Shix
A railway engineer preps a coal powered steam train before departing Shixi.
(Images: Chinese National Geography via china.org.cn)
In its article Underwater Wonders of the World, WebUrbanist wrote that “China’s submerged Lion City may be the most spectacular underwater ruins of the world, at least until more of Alexandria is explored.”
Known locally as Shi Cheng, the ancient city lies in 85-131 feet of water beneath Qiandao Lake (aka Thousand Island Lake).
But these images don’t represent some chance find by divers. The valley in which Shi Cheng is located was actually flooded in 1959 for the massive Xin’an River Dam construction.
Only in China, you might think!
But on the positive side, the sunken city, which covers an area roughly equivalent to 62 football fields, has become a serious tourist attraction.
Tour operators offer boat trips and weekend diving packages, and various concepts such as suspended floating tunnels have been submitted to allow more casual tourists to explore the ruins of Lion City.
Built in the shadow of Wu Shi (Five Lion) Mountain during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-200 AD), Shi Sheng boasts 265 arches and spectacular relief sculptures preserved within the submerged ruins.
Eerily complete, divers and international archaeologists have termed the ruins a ‘time capsule’ – a term often used in relation to abandoned places and ancient ruins, but in this case well worthy of the title.