Dalian –wow, where do I start?! It was soooooo incredibly nice to get away from Suzhou (no offence, but…) and get a change of scene!! I loved every bit of Dalian: the shopping, the cheap food, the fact that they have a lot of beautiful beaches and some nature, the fact that the city isn’t just flat like a pancake, the old Russian buildings, and, most importantly: the friendly people! Like I said in my previous post, it was also an excellent opportunity to practice my Chinese skills as no one (expect for some shop assistants and the Starbuck’s staff) seemed to be able to speak English. Ahhhh.. HEAVEN! Underground mall
We had about 3 days to explore the city and its surrounding and I think we managed to use our time quite well: doing a little bit of ‘sightseeing’ (I am normally not a fan of looking at old famous ‘must-be-seen-things’), a fair deal of shopping, a great deal of eating, and an even greater deal of just walking around, looking, taking photos of the every day life and talking to people that we met. A great combination (in the ‘Jonna world of travelling’), in other words.
I travelled with my classmate Willing, who’s from Indonesia and who looks quite Chinese. Therefore, everyone thought she was my guide/translator and more than once did I have to listen to them saying things like:
-Oh, so you are stuck with a lao wai are you?! Haha, well, can you translate when I try to sell her some stuff?!
At my first:
-Hey, I can understand what you are saying! They just laughed and patted me supportively on my shoulder, saying something sarcastic like: ‘Oh… you’re Chinese is soooo good!!’ But when I followed up with a:
-And you know what, she is not my guide or my translator, she’s from Indonesian and she speaks as much Chinese as I do.
…they got kind of long-faced and started. We had some great laughs because of the whole guide/translator situation however, and I also believe we got a better price in many stores, simply because Willing played along that she was Chinese, keeping her mouth fairly shut and just nodding, laughing and adding some minor comments here and there in during the price negotiation part.
As for shopping, I have to say that Dalian was pretty fantastic. I fell in love with the Victory Square underground market (next to the Victory square 胜利广场) and we spent all Sunday afternoon there, getting insanely cheap stuff. I might have to bore some of the male readers by actually showing u some of my shopping treasures in a later post, because it is simply too good not to be mentioned/showed (any shopping loving girl should go there to shop!).
When we didn’t shop we enjoyed the fact that Dalian is close to the ocean: talking long walks along the fishing/swim beaches. It was so nice to be in a city where u can just jump on a bus and get to the beach. Overall, the bus system is great in Dalian, much easier/clearer than Suzhou’s bus system. Some bus time tables even have pinyin?!
Yeah, imagine that?! For one kuai u can travel pretty much everywhere, and the buses are clean and fairly new. I loved it. Fishing beach
Walking along the beach
The first beach we visited wasn’t a swimming beach (but a fishing beach, so not so clean) but it was still nice to be so close to the water. When we were walking on this beach a fisherman came up to us and wanted to know where we were from, what we were doing in Dalian, and so on. He spoke with the most local dialect, there was so much ‘rrrrr’ going on that we could barely understand him, but he was so… cute! I don’t think he had ever heard of neither Sweden nor Indonesia, and when he saw my Nikon digital camera he wanted to know if I could still get my photos printed with ‘that kind of thing.’ We spent a good half an hour chatting to him, and he told us a lot of things that we couldn’t understand, and some things we could, about his life as a fisherman in Dalian. When we later took his picture he looked really happy and shone like a sun when we later waved goodbye and walked on. Local fish market
Our new fisherman friend
One of the nicer beaches that we visited was called Golden Stone Beach
(金石滩), and it was on Binhai Xi Lu
(滨海西路), which was like a park along the water which had a beautiful road that sort of weaved though the surrounding hillside. We walked along this road for a while, and it was quite tiring, as it’s so hilly. A pure paradise for the sporty type, however, and we saw plenty of joggers/power walkers who tackled those hills. Looked hard but fun, and I missed my jogging shoes. I’d love to live at a place like that, and kept fantasizing about what a Sunday long-run could be like in Dalian. Golden Stone Beach
How do u guys like my new hat? (It was love at first sight for me)
As for the Golden Stone Beach, it was kind of empty and deserted due to the season (only us and a few fishermen) but I think it would be really nice to visit during the summer. The sand was clean and the water was clear. I just wonder how packed it gets during the high-season…
We also passed by Fujia Zhuang
(another beach), Xinghai Gong Yuan
(a beach/park that also has a bungee), and the Dalian forrest ZOO,
although we didn’t enter since I’m not a fan of animals in cages.
When it came to city sights we spent some time on the Russian street,
which was a bit of a disappointment. I had imagined old buildings, small shops and cosy little cafés, but it was in fact just a long street packed with street vendors, selling everything from fake fur to Russian chocolate, cigarettes and dolls. I bought myself about 5 different kinds of hats there (for 15-20 kuai each), so I think I have enough for the next three winter seasons now. Russian street by night
Willing wearing a fake fur hat (that didn't fit my large Scandinavian head... boooh!)
Russian street by day
As for Russian architecture I think the end of the street had some nice, old buildings, but the actual Russian street was just a renovated re-make of what I believe once was a Russian street. Things were too new and shiny to look real. What was funny, however, was that when we walked on this street during the night a lot of older Chinese people (men who were out walking dogs, not vendors) started speaking Russian to me. Although I don’t know how I should take that… I look Russian?! Hm…
Dalian also had a lot of squares that we checked out: People’s Square
(nothing like the Shanghai one), Victory Square
(my favourite: a lot of shops, and night markets at night!), and Olympic Square
(surrounded by a lot of sport shop outlets, as well as an electronic market) just to mention some. Nothing too impressive, but still worth a visit. Evening food market around Victory Square
When it came to food, Dalian food was like people had told me, quite ‘dan’ (淡) when it came to taste (we asked for at least one spicy dish at every restaurant we visited but what they considered to be spicy in Dalian we regarded was a lame attempt). The local culinary delicacies are of course seafood dishes. A lot of restaurant still had large crayfishes, even though it’s November. YUM! The best restaurant we visited during our stay was on You Hao Lu (友好路) and its name was “Lai Lai Wang Wang.”
Overall I have to say that the food was so cheap it was almost too good to be true. Not once did we eat for more than 30 kuai each! Even our breakfast, (which we had at a western-like café), that consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, two toast and a coffee was a mere 18 kuai!! Insane! U cannot even get a coffee for 18 kuai in Suzhou. I loved the low prices. Korean bibimbap that we had for lunch one day was 20 kuai… Bring it on! And even though the food was so cheap the servings were really huge. We couldn’t finish even one whole dish at any of the restaurants we went to. The waiters were also really friendly and more than delighted to chit-chat and recommend dishes. Me like. Convenient with the menu on the wall
Ma la tofu pot -18 kuai and huge!
Hm.. this post is becoming too long and I haven’t even told you everything yet. I better stop writing now… I’ll have to write a second post later today and tell u more. I am also waiting for some more photos as I’ll get all the photos Willing took (which includes some photos of me… wiiiii!!!) tomorrow.