Posts Tagged With: Urban Life

Rule of Law in China–Where is it? Advice for Future Expats Looking for Housing in the Mainland

This is a personal example of poor choice in housing in China and how it affected my stay:

When I moved to Kunming in December 2012, I first stayed in a hostel for less than a week. I then found a temporary housing situation for a few weeks with a foreigner through the Kunming expat website (gokunming.com). When looking for permanent housing, I used gokunming.com, as well as a popular Chinese “craigslist-like” website, www.58.com. I decided I did not want to go through a realtor. That was one mistake.

In total, I spent two weeks checking out many apartments around the city center. In the end, I found a place through http://www.58.com. The wife of the landlord showed me the apartment: I would get my own bedroom with a bathroom. I also would live with Chinese nationals, which was one of my requirements. I lived in the apartment for a couple days before signing the half-year lease. The male landlord visited the apartment with the lease in hand and asked for my 6 months rent and deposit up front. Before handing him the rent, I skimmed over the Chinese lease and then signed it. Thinking back on it, I recommend asking for the lease in advance, especially if it is written in Mandarin, and to read it over very thoroughly. At that time, I also assumed the man was the landlord. This was another mistake I made: I should have asked him to bring his certificate of property ownership(房产证)to clarify he was in fact the owner of the apartment.

After that, I did not see my landlord for months. I went on with my life and started conducting Fulbright research. Three months into my lease, I got a phone call from my landlord. He asked me when I planned to move out. I said sometime in June. After that, he did not contact me until the end of April, informing me that I needed to move out in May. I said that is inconvenient, but if I have to, I need at least a month for preparation. I would move at the end of May. A few days later, my roommates told me the landlord was forcing us all to move out in the next two days. We all agreed his sudden decision to kick us out was against the contract.

After calling to get more details, it turned out our landlord was in actuality a “middleman.” His lease ended at the beginning of May. That is why he needed to kick us out. I asked for the actual landlord’s number to see if I could persuade her to allow us more time in her apartment. She was not very understanding about our situation. I decided doing this over the phone was not efficient, so I organized the “middleman” and the landlord to come over that night.

Before the meeting, I asked the landlord to bring her certificate of ownership. She did not have one because “the building is still new,” but she did have a “house purchase document” with her daughter’s name of it. It was her daughter’s house. That night, the middleman came to our place very late at around 11pm. The meeting was supposed to begin at 9pm. He blamed it on “traffic.” When the entire group was together, my roommates and I directly told the “middleman” that he breached all our contracts. He did not give us a month’s notice to move out early. We wanted reparations (违约金). Since the contract was made and signed by the “middleman,” he would need to pay.

One clause on the contract specifically said that if either side breaks the contract, then that side must pay in total 3 months rent (for me, 1,200rmb x3) to the other party. The “middleman” said he would allow that, but not that easily. If I asked for reparations, he would not give us any money back at this time and would first force us to find a lawyer (around 5000rmb). He said at court he would wholeheartedly acknowledge his faults. Basically, his meaning was we would waste 5000rmb on the lawyer, just to get around the same amount of money in reparations six months later through the legal system. He did not want give us the three months rent up front. Either way, he would be losing a lot of money. However, he would rather us lose money on getting a lawyer before he was satisfied to give us our entitled reparations.

I did not want to find a lawyer, but I decided, I wouldn’t move out until I got reparations.

I became very frustrated with the “middleman” and how he was treating the law as if it can be bargained. It was his contract, but he was not following his written guidelines. I knew if I had broken the contract, he would have definitely asked me for three months rent for reparations. However, when the tables turned, he would not go through with it. After some discussion with my roommates, we decided we wanted to break ties with this man. But how?

Instead of paying reparations, his solutions were: 1) we could stay at his house and just continue the lease, but I did not trust him enough to do that. 2) He then suggested paying for our accommodations while we searched for new places to live, but I wanted to do it on my own. We then started bargaining over the reparations clause. After much coaxing, he sullenly accepted to pay one extra month of rent as reparations, as well as to pay back the deposit and unfinished rent.

In the end, I received almost 5,000rmb and my roommates got their money back too. The “middleman” did not want to lose any more face, so he kept on complaining how we were in the wrong and that he was going against the contract for giving us this money. We all knew he was embarrassed. The real landlord was present the entire discussion, but in the end, she did not allow us extra time to move out. Even though she knew we all did not have homes to go to, she still kicked us out. So, in the end, I had bad opinions of the both of them. I am glad I got my money back. Now I could finally break ties with these people and live on with my life.

This incident affected my Fulbright grant because I had to find a new home in the middle of my grant period. It was inconvenient, but not “the end of the world.” It would be best to find a stable home with a nice landlord to avoid this kind of problem.

Advice:

1. Go through a realtor for the safest housing options.

2. Ask for the lease in advance so you have enough time to thoroughly read over it.

  • Be sure the lease mentions a penalty fee (违约金) for either party breaking the contract
  • Be sure the lease mentions that the landlord or renter must inform the other party a month in advance for an early move out.
  • Be sure to ask the landlord to bring a certificate of property ownership (房产证) before signing the lease to be sure s/he is in fact the apartment owner.
  • If there is a “middle man” (中间人), be sure the real owner of the apartment signs the lease.
  • If there is a “middle man” (中间人), be aware of the risks with signing under him/her.
  • If possible, ask previous tenants their thoughts on the landlord.

3. If you have to confront an unreasonable landlord, be sure to conduct the meeting calmly, but sternly.

  • Call in the local neighborhood committee (juweihui 居委会) for mediation.
  • Visit the local police station with your lease document to see if they are willing to assist you.
  • If you feel at all threatened, call the police.

4. Call for help and advice from your friends or law professionals. You should not go through this alone!

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Exploring Kunming: Confucian Temple and Old Kunming

My friend Sam visited me from Japan for the week. On the first night we went to a Tibetan restaurant for a welcoming feast (yum!). The next day, I showed him around town: the Yuantong Buddhist Temple, dumpling restaurant (best in town!), and then we decided to go to Kunming’s Confucian Temple, which I had never been to and had no idea where it was. I asked random passerbys on the street, rode two buses, and walked close to the city center. A kind, old Chinese man, who we met on the second bus, showed us the way. We followed him as he hobbled through the busy bird and flower district alleyways. Birds chirped, bunnies rattled cages, maggots squirmed in large woven baskets, and the old man gruffly talked to me with a strong Kunming accent: “Ne suo han hua suo de hen hoe, hen hoe (you speak very well, very well.)” He was over 80, graduated from Yunnan University in the 1950s, and was a teacher at Kunming Xiamen University. We arrived at the front entrance to the district. He points us into the general direction and says farewell.

On the way to the temple, I played with puppies that were being sold on the street. We also stopped at a memorial that commemorated the forces who fought against Japan during World War II. We then passed the cross between Old Kunming and “New” Old Kunming.

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Which side is the “real” Old Kunming?

The development of “Ancient Cities (gucheng)” has become quite widespread in China for tourism incentives. This “ancient city” (on the left) is an example. The architecture is traditional, or at least what most people think “traditional” Chinese architecture looks like. I would guess this is based off centuries old buildings. The side on the right is one of the few existing old parts of the city (the bird and flower district is basically Old Kunming). When I say old, maybe over 100-200 years old. This is because most architecture in the past was made out of wood, hence most of it wears and rots away within many centuries. The Great Wall survived with its thick layers of stone and bones. I found the dichotomy within this photo to be evident and interesting. The battle versus old and “Old.”

In front of “Old” Kunming was the Confucian temple.

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The Confucian Temple: Now an Open Park and Garden

The door was open for the community. We entered to find crowds of retired men and women playing cards, chess, and music. Beneath the pictured pavilion (seen above) was a horde of older men playing mahjong. Table after table had men flicking their tiles into the middle and picking up a new tile, hoping for the lucky one. Sam and I found a bench overlooking this lively environment. I think I found a new reading spot.

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Cannons Crossing the River: Playing Chinese Chess

When exiting the park, we found a crowd circling around something. I always get tricked into thinking there’s a fight. But every single time, it’s two men actually playing Chess. I’m hoping to learn how to play and join in one of these epic board game events.

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Celebrating New Years Away from Home: A Night of Music and Chinese Lesbians

After reading up on fieldwork methods that afternoon, I met with friends for dinner at a popular foreigner bar. We made new friends (one from Britain and the other from New Zealand) and both set off to Camel Bar for their New Years party. New Years is normally a holiday where I hang out with my family, and not a night where I go out on the town. I thought I would give this kind of celebrating a shot. We get to Camel Bar just in the nick of time (around 11:45pm). The band introduces the New Year by playing rock and bluegrass. The confetti feels like it fills the air, always falling. Couples kiss, bright lights twinkle, the floor is vibrating from the base, the group next to me throw their glasses into the air and cheer for the New Year: “gan bei!” “cheers!” I start to miss home. I remember this time last year my twin sister and I were playing the new Zelda game and beat it that night (I know, we are beyond cool). That was a good introduction to the new year, at least for me. Celebrating this time of the year with strangers feels a bit strange. I look into the crowd trying to find my friends. They are in the middle, listening to the music. I find them and wish them a happy new year.

My new British friend bought me a white Russian and from then on the night was filled with conversation. I listened about their adventures traveling for the past month, they were intrigued by my research, and I laughed at my friend’s jokes. I felt a bit better. The two people I was talking to decided to go dance. I stayed behind because I wanted to stay off my foot. I injured my toe the other day. While I relaxed on a bar stool, I noticed my friend flirting it up with two Chinese girls. I silently rooted for him and continued sipping at my white Russian. Suddenly, he looked back at me and said: “Hey, she thinks you’re cute.” I nearly spit out my drink. A young, pretty Chinese woman approaches me and says in Chinese: “Hello, I think you’re cute. My name is M.” She mentions that she finds my research interesting. My friend was playing the wingman for me…not sure if he even knew. My night took an unexpected turn.

I get to know more about her. She works for the subway development company that’s currently establishing Kunming’s first subway system. She says it’s busy and has long hours, but it’s good pay. We talked for about 20 minutes, then my British friend returned and persuaded me to join them dancing. I asked if M wanted to dance, but she simply smiled and refused. “We’ll talk later,” she said. After joining them on the dance floor, my friends decide to move to the party district, Kundu. I joined them, since it was closer to my apartment. I was getting tired and wanted to head back.

What I wasn’t expecting was that M was driving us. She showed us her car, a brand new, white SUV. We were surprised, what a nice car for someone so young! She must be rich. M’s friend escorts me to the front seat, but I said I can sit in the back. My friend with longer legs should be in the front. But she didn’t want to hear it, seemed like M really wanted to sit next to me. My friend whispers into my ear, “Looks like you’re the favorite.” I comfortably sit in the front seat and look back to find my two friends, a 40 year-old french man (where did he come from?), and M’s friend crammed in the back.

I have light conversation with M and then we arrive at the party district. It is alive with drunken Chinese filtering in and out of the club entrances. The club front walls were beaming with lights and busting out loud beats. I was too tired to even think about going into one of those. I politely excuse myself to flag a taxi. I heard later that M and her friend left soon after.

That was my first experience being hit on by a Chinese lesbian. I was very flattered, but also felt a bit bad on two accounts: one, not being attracted to her, and two, unintentionally “cock-blocking” my friend. In the end, Near Years Eve turned into a very eventful night. I enjoyed it.

Happy New Year everybody!

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Exploring Kunming: The Old Second Hand Market

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James, another Fulbrighter, and I decided to check out one of the second-hand markets for bikes. “Second-hand” in this case may actually mean either “third+ hand” or stolen wares. We found the old second hand market beneath a highway overpass and behind a large cement wall. The stalls had about everything: half-broken refrigerators, dusty rugs and carpets, dirty mattresses, and rusty bikes! We tested out bikes up and down the thin pathway. That day we did not buy a bike, but the next day we went to the new second hand market, which was gigantic. It was maze riddled with small alleys that led to more shops. We both found what we were looking for and biked back home.

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Thoughts From an “Old Foreigner:” Sense of Having Privacy in a Crowd

“Old foreigner, or laowai (老外), is a somewhat derogatory term that describes a foreigner in China. For most expats, we play with this identity by calling ourselves, laowai. Might as well embrace how Chinese view us, because this perception won’t change…our physical differences will always separate us from “being Chinese.” At times, this sense of separation hurts, since I want to understand Chinese culture, immerse myself in the everyday life of Harbiners or Kunmingers…but this separation also brings about understanding of difference (foreignness) that protects me from being judged. For instance, I took off a pair of pants the other night in a restaurant because I was wearing a dress underneath. That action of taking clothes off in public is “weird,” but no one really took notice or cared. “It’s a foreigner thing.”

If a person approaches me that I do not want to talk to, I can pretend to not understand and go on my way. I can make funny faces, laugh loudly, and joke around without worrying about being “graceful and subdued (婉约).” This is a popular behavior that men like in Chinese girls, also can’t forget the cuteness factor ( that often leading to ending sentences with “a” “o” “bei” “la”). I don’t need to worry about these expectations, I am free from Chinese cultural norms because I am different. In this sense, I feel free.

This brings me to my other observation: Sense of Being Alone in an Endless Crowd. When an American thinks of China, one of the few things he/she thinks of are “the crowds:” The streets that are crowded like sardines, the outdoor super-sized pools that are filled wall-to-wall with inflatable tubes, the beaches are also a mad-house of colorful umbrellas and beige bodies. This perception of China, is at times trues–train stations during the Spring Festival, morning/night markets (see picture below)–but the crowds are not to that extreme. However, wherever you are in Chinese cities, there are always people around…a lot of people. The most common phrase I hear Chinese people say is “人太多” “There are too many people.”  And it is true.

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Picture taken in Dalian, Liaoning Province: Crowd at Morning Market

Though there are ALWAYS people around, I have noticed that it has made Chinese people more distant from each other. From the pushing/shoving/pumping on buses without any care of the person you pushed, to singing loudly on the street without anyone giving you any notice. Even though you are always surrounded by people, a Chinese person still has privacy in public simply because everyone is in their own little bubbles, surrounded by a billion of other little bubbles. At least, this is what I have observed.

Since I am not Chinese, I get a completely different experience here. EVERYONE stares at me and I feel like I don’t have any privacy. People are curious about what “the foreigner” is doing, what is she saying in Chinese, what is she buying, what is she reading? I’ve gotten used to it. But, sometimes when I’m walking about campus, I observe a college student walking by himself around campus (maybe to his dorm or class), singing a pop tune loudly to himself. He wears a thick winter jacket, his eyes are looking down to the snowy sidewalk as he sings. His notes freeze into the frigid air. I feel envious for his privacy. He isn’t different, he is simply another face in the crowd, and thus is ignored by the others. I will not feel that kind of freedom.

What does it feel like to live in a country that has “too many” people, to the point that its leads to everyone distancing themselves from each other. I only experience the outer layer of it all as a foreigner.

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Exploring Harbin: Second Visit to Old Harbin

I tagged along with a classmate to Old Harbin. I brought my tote bag along  in preparation for all the cheap, delicious snacks and treats that I would buy. We set off by bus and meandered through the stampede of vehicles on Dazhi street (5 lanes) and city center until we finally hit the old part of town. We actually had no idea which stop to get off at…which isn’t that out-of-the-ordinary. We spoke with locals who helped us figure out our way. When I saw the deteriorating Baroque style buildings peak through the alleyways that we passed, I knew we were close.

Rotting Baroque Downtown

This neighborhood was influence by the Russian population of Harbin in the early 1900s, but this style of architecture fits more wit late 19th century Russia. Besides the renovated parts of town (Zhongyang Street), most of these old buildings are peeling away their once vibrant exterior. While walking through Old Harbin, I felt like I wasn’t in China. But, I didn’t feel like I was in Europe either. It more felt like an eerie combination of post-apocalyptic film and steam punk.

We walked to Harbin’s best bun shop (张包铺-Zhangbaopu) to grab some lunch and then went to the market to buy 小吃 (snacks) and treats. It was a bit early for the night rush. The most interesting think I saw at the market were in-midst cocooning caterpillars. They were brown/green and looked fat and juicy. I did not buy one, but maybe next time.

Early for the Night Rush

Pigeons for Sale

Alleyway in Old Harbin

After buying Taiwanese pastries, we walked to the Bird, Flower, Fish market. I entered a little shops that were smaller than my freshman dorm room, but were crammed from floor to ceiling with cages filled with colorful birds. Outside had a row of vendors that sold fighting fish, gold fish, prawn, crab, and fish food. After the sun set, it became incredibly cold, which is a prevailing pattern these days. So, we headed back by bus to prepare for class the next day.

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Exploring Harbin: 731 Museum and Understanding Japan and China’s Relationship

It was a frigid afternoon with a gray haze of car exhaust clouding the distance when we arrived at 731, a museum that unearths an old Japanese germ weapon research base. I walked through the old military gate, and observed the yellow building contrast against the thin layer of snow. The wind blew right through me and my thin jacket then. I realized the weather and the museum were both frigid….I regretted not wearing enough layers.

Visiting 731 with CET program

I believe visiting a national museum is a good method in understanding a government’s values and how they simultaneously promote patriotism at the same time. This is especially visible in Chinese museums. A museum utilizes many mediums to display their content’s history and meaning: I find reading signs as the most effective way to understand the motive of the museum–what is the museum trying to make me feel? What am I supposed to think about this country (and other’s) after attending the exhibition? Specific language is chosen to describe the past events in Unit 731, and its chosen for a reason. Let’s see if I figure it out at the end of this post.

First off, this was the introduction sign before entering the museum:

“Manchu Unit 731” was a special troop set up in China under the [Japanese] imperial edict. In 1935, the unit set up the biological weapon research and test base in Pingfang and a biologicial warfare command of the Japanese Army in the Southeast Asia…In the base, which was referred to as ‘the den of cannibals’, Uniy 731 engaged in germ weapon research by conducting cruel vivisection. According to historical documentation, just between 1939 and August to 1945 alone at least 3,000 anti-Japanese and anti-Manchukuo fighters from home and abroad and innocent civilians were maimed and killed as vivisection subjects. In August 1945, Japan lost the war and surrendered. In order to cover up its heinous atrocities, Unit 731 carried out large-scale destruction and sabotage to the facilities in this area. Today 23 sites are listed as the key sites for protection to testify to the crimes.

I highlighted the words that constructed the frame the writer of these signs wanted us to view this place and, most importantly, the Japanese. This kind of language could be found throughout the museum.

Entrance Sign–“Crime Evidence”

One motive for the creation of this museum was to emphasize the fact that the Japanese conducted research that went against international anti-biochemical warfare and research laws–what they did was wrong and it was a crime against China and humanity. This museum is evidence for this fact. This motive’s goal is to evoke anger into the museum visitors toward Japan. From what I observed, it was successful. My classmate shared with me what he overheard from a father and his son:

After leaving the museum, a father asked his son, “Do you now dislike Japan (你讨厌日本吗)?” The young boy, maybe 9 years old or so, replied, “Yes, I do. (讨厌).”

Before entering the main exhibit, one last sign sparked my interested. It read: “Forgetting about the history means betrayal.” It gave me a heebie-jeebies. That phrase was found throughout the entire museum.

A wall of Unity 731 history and its atrocities– no idea where they got this information.

Japanese Soldiers with their “Comfort Women” in front of Togo Shrine

A memorial for those who died in the base

From the memorial hall, I stepped outside to find a silent lawn in the midst of a light snowfall. I walked to the now destroyed germ weapon research building. There only stands one row of concrete with two smoke stacks. In front are the remains of what looks like was a basement.

Old Germ Warfare Research Lab Building

Beneath the remains

I walked around the remains, sinking everything that I read and watched. It’s a lot to take in. War brings out the worst in a country. However, through diplomacy we can rekindle relationships and make the world a (little) more stable once again. When I visited this museum, I felt like its display stoked the contentious fire between China and Japan, instead of treating the issue with a clear-minded judgement.

This museum reminded me of my visit to the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. and the Holocaust memorial in Miami, Florida. Both places made me aware of the atrocities that happened during WWII. I felt the same way leaving them–sad and contemplative. But, I didn’t leave either of those places disliking Germany or any other country. I didn’t grow up being told over and over again to hate a country and their government (and even their people). To me, this is unhealthy and doesn’t help the problem. The Chinese government is using this tactic to build up nationalism among its people–and they are doing it really well–but its also gradually deteriorating the potential for reestablishing a healthy relationship between the two countries. There are faults on both sides, of course, but I only see one side of this relationship.

I have met too many children and teenagers that blindly hate Japan. This just doesn’t seem right to me. Everyone has their own right to have opinions, but if these opinions were being propagated by the media and government…are those really your own opinions or is it something else entirely?

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Exploring Harbin: Shopping in Hongbo Underground Market

Since I lost my mitten in Inner Mongolia, my roommate and I decided to venture to the gigantic underground market that is Hongbo Square. It is an intricate underground mall (3 levels) with endless halls of clothing and random knick-knacks. Though I do not like to go shopping, I enjoyed the atmosphere: thousands of locals bartering with vendors for deals and couples window shopping. So, this is what average “Harbiners” do on the weekend.

Shopping in Downtown Market

Mengnan (my roommate) wearing ear mitts

A Piece of Home in the Underground Market

I’m surprised the shirt was spelled correctly! Are there such things as Minnesota Wildcats? I bought new gloves and spandex with fleece on the inside. I’ll be warm this winter!

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Exploring Harbin: “Old Harbin”

This weekend, CET organized an outing to visit the old downtown of Harbin. It is a worthwhile site because of its old (almost withering) baroque-style architecture and slowly depleting alleyways. When we got off the bus, we first visited Harbin’s mosque. The architecture was a pretty site, compared to the concrete apartments surrounding it. There is a large Muslim population (Hui minority) that lives in this area.

Mosque in the Middle of “Old Harbin”

From the Mosque, we walked down the street and observed the baroque architecture and busy streets of locals buying ingredients for dinner and enjoying the autumn day.

Baroque Architecture in Old Harbin

My friend, Mengdi (Dare), and I lost the group and decided to explore the alleyways. Previously, Harbin was similar to Beijing, in that it had a intricate network of alleyways that hosted local residences. Now, the alleyways are nearly nonexistent except for the few that cut between the streets of Old Harbin. While Mengdi and I were walking through a newly developed outdoor shopping area, we exited onto a small street that lead to a dark, messy alleyway. We entered it.

Alleyway

We cut through and found hole-in-the-wall bars with tables of older men smoking cigarettes and drinking late-afternoon beers. There were some vendors selling tuan(r)–food on stick–and owners drying their laundry outside of their stores. It felt nice to walk through an old part of town that is still a part of today’s culture. It had a rustic feeling to it. We walked through and stumbled into a busy market lined with fruit, fish, spice, meat, vegetable sellers and crowds of people.

Buying Pig’s Cheek at a Local Vendor in the Busy Market

I bought a pomegranate and then joined one of my classmate’s roommates to what he said is Harbin’s best bun (baozi) shop. We had pork chop buns. We devoured them and then walked to the riverside. We walked along the shore and then joined our classmates for dinner at a Muslim restaurant. It was a nice outing for a cool Saturday night.

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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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