Do not trifle lightly with the Harbin mattress," warned travel writer Putnam Weale after a trip to China's frozen, northern metropolis. "It is capable not only of assuming a defensive attitude, but one of absolute offense." A century after Weale's Harbin sojourn, accommodations there are more, well, accommodating. Among the classier places to stay is the Lungmen Hotel, tel: (86-451) 8679 1888. Once a station hotel along the Trans-Siberian railroad, the Lungmen is a portal to Harbin's colonial past, when the city was ruled by Russians and vied with Shanghai for the sobriquet "Paris of the East."