Jilin is a small city in the province of Jilin. When I say small, I’m using a Chinese perspective of course. This ‘small’ city of 1 million people has about as many people as New Zealand’s largest city.
Sometimes I think I will never fully comprehend the sheer enormity that is the Chinese population, let alone that of the world.
The best time to visit Jilin is in the coldest part of winter – January and February. It is far enough south that the Songhua river does not freeze, but far enough north for -20 degree Celsius temperatures.
This causes something quite cool. As the warmth from the river rises and meets the cold air – crystals form on the trees.
Unfortunately I did not see them. I’ll be long gone from the region next year so I won’t get another chance. I really wish I had seen them. Don’t they look amazing?
Photos from www.china.org.cn
Before you go “pretty!” and run off to see it like I did; this phenomenon can be quite hard to catch. Don’t make my mistake.
You must go when it is -20 degrees Celsius. I had weird health issues including awfully dry eyes that were painful to open/close/exist, and left going until later when I felt better. Admittedly I didn’t know how essential this was, or I’d have gone earlier – painful itchy eyes and bad cold bed damned.
It was still February when I went, but I had the bad luck of the 2013-2014 winter being really oddly warm (for Harbin). It was not cold enough for the Ice-Rimmed Trees.
If I had known about them the previous year and gone at the same time – I think it would have been fine. It was colder for a much longer time then.
They also disappear before 7am. So stay overnight and get up early.
Jilin is cool place to visit even without the Ice-Rimmed Trees.
At night make sure to walk along the river boulevard. It is a really pretty area to walk around at night. It in the day. The night-time light show along Hong Kong’s waterfront is famous, but I honestly thought the lights along Jilin’s River front were better.
Meteorite Museum (吉林陨石博物馆)
This is pretty cool. There was a large meteor shower not far from Jilin, and now the museum houses the three largest meteors in the world.
You can touch the second biggest one. I thought it was really interesting. Where did it come from? We see one planet all the time and meteorite is not from our planet – it is from somewhere else entirely.
Was it part of another planet originally?
Have other life forms (if they exist) seen it?
How long did it drift about in space?
You can just look at it as a rock, and they’re dime a dozen aren’t they? But as I stood touching it I wondered at its history and where it had been. Like with China’s population, I don’t think I’ll ever truly comprehend how enormous it is.
Some questions are never answered.
This is the largest Confucius Temple in the region, although it is not that well maintained it is worth a look.
If you stay in the centre of town near the river, you will be in a great place to see the Ice-Rimmed Trees in the wee hours of the morning.
Both the Meteorite Museum and the Confucius Temple are within walking distance.