I went to Harbin, a city further north than where I am in China, with two other teachers last week. We took the hard seat (for about 11 hours) overnight to get there. It was OK. Much better than some train experiences I've had before, both in and out of China. I did wake up at least once to people taking pictures of me with my mouth open. Lovely. We were introduced to a Korean family who is friends of someone at our university. They helped us find a place to stay and they also showed us around the city and fed us twice. They were super nice. The pictures above are of "Russia Street". There is an orthodox church nearby, cobblestone streets, and European style buildings and shops that make it feel like you're not in China for a while, which (as much as I really do love China) is a nice feeling.
The cobblestone street ends at the Songhwa River where we got our first sighting of a snow sculpture (a pig, because it's the year of the pig) and all sorts of fun ice games.
After walking around for a while, we ate McDonald's (it only tastes good in foreign countries, and since we don't have one in Yanji, it tasted especially good) and went to Wal-Mart (another thing Yanji doesn't have) to buy cheese and a few other items from the imported food section, then back to our sleeping spot to rest up a bit for the opening night of the ice festival.
I'll post more pictures of the main winter attractions, the ice park and the snow sculpture park, later.