Posts Tagged With: Dalian

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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Weekend Excursion: Visiting the Pacific Ocean–Dalian, Liaoning Province, China

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.

Homemade Lunch

After lunch, we rested for an hour or two and then visited the beach near sunset.

Zou Mengnan and I

Beach near Sunset

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.

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