This weekend, I decided to visit my CET roommate in her hometown, Dalian, Liaoning Province, China. She had returned home for the week-long holiday, but I only had free-time during the weekend to visit her. I set off by train on Friday at 5:30pm from Harbin and arrived in Dalian at 4:30am the next day. I took an hour nap in the two-story, luxurious KFC (seriously, it’s really nice) and then walked around the shopping district while waiting for my roommate and her family to pick me up at around 8:00am.While strolling around, I ran into Russian Culture Street, which was lined with Russian-style architecture buildings. I later learned this area was recently built up for tourism purposes (1980s-ish); however, the heart of downtown, that was about half a mile down the street, still had traditional Gothic architecture that was inspired by the Russian population that once lived in Dalian early in the 20th century.
Russian Style Architecture in Dalian
My roommate and her parents picked me up at the Russian Culture district and then drove us around the city. They first dropped my roommate and I off at the Japanese Culture neighborhood that still has traditional architecture, but no longer a thriving Japanese population. My roommate and I walked down the long pedestrian walkway and observed the old and new Japanese-style houses. She said that some of these houses house Communist soldiers that once fought during the civil war (Communists versus Nationalists) in the early 20th century. I was surprised to see so many houses, and not apartments. Houses are uncommon and incredibly expensive, they said around 5+ million RMB.
Houses in the Japanese District
We walked through the neighborhood till we hit the morning market, where we met her parents, who were buying ingredients for our lunch! Greens, clams, shrimp, flounder, peaches, and pears. The market was thriving with locals haggling over vegetables, meats, and fish with vendors. The line of vendors lasted many blocks.
The Morning Market （早市）
From the morning market, we walked through the neighboring botanical gardens and then went on our way to the coast. They drove along the mountainside, which had beautiful views of the ocean. I haven’t seen the ocean since San Francisco and Miami. I grew up in a place that was no where near the ocean (does Lake Superior count?). So, when I see the ocean, I always am shocked by its beauty and endless horizon. I can’t look away from it.
Dalian Ocean and Mountains
We drove along the coast for an hour, stopping at scenic points, and then drove to my roommate’s home where we ate delicious homemade food: garlic chives with pork, flounder in brown sauce, boiled clams, boiled salted shrimp, mixed vegetables, with red bean rice. I miss it already… The apartment had a kitchen, large living room, two bedrooms, and a study. It was very comfortable and her family was incredibly welcoming.
After lunch, we rested for an hour or two and then visited the beach near sunset.
Zou Mengnan and I
Sunset on the Pacific
We sat along the beach till the sun hid behind the cliffs. While relaxing, I observed many fisherman throwing out hooks into the shallow waters, children slowly stepping through the rocky sand, and couples squatting near the water looking for pretty stones. It was a soothing and vibrant atmosphere.
After the beach, Mengnan and I walked along a path that followed the cliff edge and overlooked the ocean. The sunset over the city was pretty.
Sunset over Dalian
We walked and chatted along the scenic path and then entered downtown Dalian. We walked by an amusement park with roller coasters and other western thriller rides and then rested at a pavilion that was shaped like an open book. The pages were like wings of a dove. My roommate said the book is supposed to remind Dalian of its history (which my next post will mention) and how its development is growing rapidly, like a bird taking flight. Sounds like more seaside cities in China right now…
Afterwards, we went to a mall to eat dinner: stinky tofu, rice desserts, sweet and sour fish, and other yummy foods. We headed back home by bus and chilled with her parents and then went to sleep.