Weekend Excursion–Dalian: Port Arthur and Last Night

We woke up early the next morning and set off on a 2-hour car ride to the southwest of Dalian to see Port Arthur, a strategic port that the Russians and Japanese once fought for in the early 20th century. The drive down was scenic with rocky formations, fields of grain, and glimpses of the sea. Before driving into the port, we first visited 203 Hill, the highest hill around the port that was used by the Russian army to watch for invading armies entering through the bay. It was a main battlefield during the Russo-Japanese War. The view was pretty, which looked onto the small bay and surrounding green mountains.

At 203 Hill, we visited a memorial that was erected by the successful Japanese soldiers to commemorate the 10,000 Japanese that died during the battle for Port Arthur. The Chinese description of the memorial was interesting (Caution! Special English below):

“Nogi Maresuke, Commander of the Japanese third army corps built this 10.3 meter high, bullet shaped tower, using shell relics, and wrote, in person, the three Chinese characters ‘Er Ling Shan,’ which is the Han aphony of 203 pronounced in Chinese. Now this has become the misdeed evidence of Japanese militarized invasion and equals a pillar of shame.”

The current relationship between China and Japan is tumultuous, to say the least. This entire port’s descriptions of the Japanese not only demonizes the Japanese soldiers who invaded China in 1904, but also Japan’s modern day population. The descriptions of the Japanese were ambiguous enough that is seemed like the demonized language was aimed at both past and present Japanese. The common Chinese still openly despises Japan. When I enter restaurants, it’s common to hear “We accept foreigners, just not Japanese.”

203 Hill Memorial and a group Japanese Tourists

I was surprised to see a group of Japanese tourists at 203 Hill, especially during this contentious period between China and Japan and the small fishing islands north of Taiwan. I wonder how they viewed that memorial–was it really “pillar of shame?”

Baiyushan Tower or another Japanese Phallus?

From 203 Hill, we drove to Baiyu Mountain to see another memorial erected by the Japanese to commemorate the many soldiers that died for the strategic land mass. Behind the memorial, was a scenic view of the port:

The Rock reads: Lushun Port (Port Arthur) and the Bay Behind us

Dalian has an interesting part of Chinese history and I am glad I was introduced to it during this weekend. After visiting the port, Mengnan and her family took me to a fish market where we would choose the fish we wanted to eat that night. We choose shrimp (it was soooo fresh!), clams, and a large white fish. Afterwards, we went to a restaurant where they cooked our fish for us.

Salting Fish at the Fish Market Alongside the Sea

Before taking the overnight train back to Harbin, we wrapped dumplings with Mengnan’s mom–Pork with garlic chives filling. It was a good night. Mengnan’s family is really inviting and kind.

Wrapping Dumplings with Mengnan’s Mom

Afterwards, we raced for the train and got on at the nick of time. We were taking “hard-seats” (the cheapest, most uncomfortable tickets before “standing” tickets) back to Harbin. The seats include a hard-as-plastic seat with a thin layer of cotton for sanitary purposes. No armrests, just squished between two passengers, at least for me. This was my first time that I had taken an overnight “hard-seat.” It was interesting seeing the type of crowd that takes this cheaper option: 1) tanned-skin, calloused handed Chinese country dwellers with their larger-than-life bags filled with who-knows-what, 2) families sitting on seats and laying on the crummy floor, 3) students saving money, and 4) one foreigner who bought tickets too late for the long weekend break–me. I slept surprisingly well on the dividing table and made it to class on time the next morning.

I had a great weekend in Dalian. I hope I can go back again.

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