You might think I traveled alone this holiday, as you see I had a room for one, bought one train ticket and had no one else in my pictures. But that’s not true. I didn’t travel with another person, but I didn’t travel alone. I traveled with someone very popular, someone who kept me warm when I was cold, and never complained when we hiked all day in the rain. That someone? The Harbin Jacket.
You see, despite my hearty New England upbringing, Xiamen has made me soft. Winter in Xiamen is in the 60’s, which means a light jacket, maybe a sweater, nothing more. No need for hat, gloves, scarves or especially a warm winter jacket. When I moved here I threw away my very old winter jacket assuming I’d just buy a new one when I needed it. But I’ve never needed it. Not in Xiamen. None of us do. So none of us have winter coats.
But, we have to leave the warm embrace of Xiamen sometimes, and one of my friends had to take a trip, in the winter, to Harbin. Harbin is in north China, near the tippy top, and is known as the coldest city in China, with averages way below zero (in both Fahrenheit and Celsius).
So she bought herself a warm winter jacket and The Harbin Jacket entered our lives. Since then, whenever any of my friends needs to travel somewhere cold, we use this jacket. After all, there is no reason to spend a lot of money for a jacket we use for just a few days. And my friend is nice enough to share.
So the jacket has some amazing adventures. As the traveling partner of the jacket I was lucky enough to have some adventures with it. It played a big role in my trip and many times was the star of my photos:
Leaving Xiamen, it was too hot to wear the jacket so it hung out in the overhead rack and had a great time. It loves to travel.
It got to work right away as when I arrived in Mt Wuyi, it was cold and wet and I needed it to help me. It had been a long time since I wore such a heavy jacket and I kinda forgot how it all worked.
On the cold, wet river while getting rained on the Harbin Jacket was offended that I wore one of those dumb rain ponchos over it. The jacket later yelled at me, and assured me that it could keep me dry and I would never have to embarrass myself by wearing that ugly garbage bag again. I apologized.
At one point I was under a giant rock, where it was dry, and I decided to take off the jacket for a minute as I walked around exploring some caves. The Harbin Jacket used these moments of solitude to contemplate the big questions.
On Huang Shan it used every ounce of it’s warming ability to stay close and keep me warm. It loved to sit quietly and gaze out over the snowy peaks.
Once I wanted to go in and warm up but if refused me and made me stand outside and hike around so it could see more. It was sometimes a very demanding travel companion.
After the peacefulness of the mountains, the Harbin Jacket was excited to go to Shanghai where, upon arrival, it went to a bar, and picked up chicks! This girl taught taught the Harbin Jacket Latin dancing, while I sat to the side, too shy to dance.
More Latin dancing!
Then it enjoyed meeting my students and being snuggled by a lot of guys. The Harbin Jacket loves people, not gender.
And once again in protected me as the rain raged outside and I had no umbrella and walked a few kilometers. It’s hard to see from this picture, but my pants weren’t so lucky and ended up soaked. But my torso was okay, protected by the Harbin Jacket.
Then upon arriving back in Xiamen, I had to immediately pass it back off to my friend who needed to travel north for Chinese New Year. In just a few short weeks, me and that jacket went through a lot. We ate together, we hiked together, we rode trains, slept in the same room every night and even went to the bathroom together a few times. Yep, we were that close. I’ll miss you buddy!