Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Dalian

Andrea and I took last weekend to enjoy the summer before it turns into a very short Autumn in a few weeks. We went up to Dalian, near Korea to enjoy the beach, sunsets and seaside beer.

As a result of the oil spill a month or so ago nearby, most of the beaches have booms (that seems to be the word the media used in the US anyway) around them: a long chain of buoys that hang about a metre deep to keep the oil away. On one of the beaches we did see some oil residue on some buoys but not much, and nothing near land. It was a month ago though, so I am not sure what it was like then. The beaches are fine, some sandy, some pebbly, most crowded with umbrellas, tents and marquees (under which the locals sit and eat on plastic tables). There were a fair few Russians too - this being the closest beach to Russia.

The city itself is pleasant enough. Some nice buildings remain from Russian and Japanese occupation from 1895-1905 (for the former) and 1905-1949 (for the latter) and there is a business district since Dalian has a busy port and does a lot of trade between Russia, Japan, and Korea. There is also some foreign companies as Dalian is China' leader in the IT outsourcing industry servicing Korea and Japan mainly. Between those areas and the shopping centres the city is much like other large and fast developing cities (behind the top cities though). It is run-down in places though generally quite nice. The two tram lines which date from, and still resemble, the first half of the century, adds some character.

We happened to be in town when there was a Dalian International fashion festival of sorts..actually the 21st which is somewhat incredible. There were various open-air performances around the city and a parade through the city with floats. Like most things in China, there was nothing much 'international' about it apart from the name, some Africans on the floats (it was weird.. There would be 2-3 pretty Chinese girls on a float with 1 African guy dancing up and down) and a few Russian performers. It was mostly Chinese kids in different outfits and each district in Dalian had a float, as did several companies, and amusingly so did the tax bureau!

Dalian had very little traffic, but also practically zero bikes (and zero bike lanes too) -is there a direct link here? I presume there is some regulation against bikes which is strange. What Dalian does have is a fantastic slide down a hill -the kind where you get on a piece of plastic on wheels with a useless brake and career down a metal half-pipe. Wonderful fun, and a highlight of a city that is pleasant but nothing special. Most of the beaches were busy and the water rarely inviting, though it pays off to walk around the rocks to find the 'other' beach with few people on and clear water.

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