19 September 2019

48 Hours: Dalian, China!

Feeling a certain kinship for China's Northeastern corner I boarded my China Southern flight on the eve of 2019s Mid-Autumn Festival. The working week had finally concluded, allowing me to make my way to Beijing's Capital International Airport. Dalian, a port city within China's Liaoning Province had lured me to see its working docks and much, much more! I was ready! 

Arriving the night before the holiday weekend commenced definitely saved me time, after resurfacing from Holiday Inn Express hotel I was able to witness the first of many colonial reminders that exist within modern Dalian City life! Colonialised by both Russia and Japan, I was originally drawn to Dalian because those past foreign influences could still be seen within present day Dalian. Walking from my hotel I was lucky enough to see a restored Japan-era tram that passed through the streets, in China that's a pretty rare sight to see! Casting my mind back to my time in Hong Kong it was another reminder that a foreign entity had influenced transport within another Chinese City. On the look out for Dalian's Russia Customs Street I used Apple Maps on my iPhone to help me find my way. I caught a glimpse of a building that had a striking European likeness, I had arrived successfully! DLN, you knew I was ready to shop! 

I was particular with my shopping expectations as I made my way along Dalian's Russia Style Street, I was ready to negotiate the best price using my Chinese language skills! The first Russian dolls were offered to me at a criminal price, as soon as they realised I understood their figures in Chinese and that I was not going to fall for their chat it didn't impress them at all! Sharp with my Chinese bartering skills I managed to get a lovely wooden Russian style doll. Sniffing out the Chinese imitations in order to find a true Russian made headscarf took some going, using those language skills and my common sense I secured a fair price indeed. My eyes were firmly looking for a special brand of Russian milk chocolate that I had found in Harbin, getting my price sorted I had some gorgeous tasting Russian chocolate for the win! The chocolate brand that I had chosen had a little girl on the wrapper, she shared an uncanny likeness with her blonde hair and big blue eyes like my niece, Orla. Rain, don't do! 

Yes, I was very hungry, slightly disheartened by the lack of a Russian restaurant along that tourist trap street. I consulted my favourite restaurant app for some choices. Finding 'Friday Russian Restaurant' through the rain was such a relief, being such a short trip I refused to buy an umbrella! Ordering my food was such a treat, it was going to be a fulfilling meal for certain! Going with a Baltika 3 to drink, I ordered the freshly made 'Borscht' soup. For my main I got inventive, pairing a beef burger like serving that had a fried egg on top. Going for some gloriously rich mashed potatoes had me in food heaven! The meal tasted gorgeous and certainly filled a generous space in my stomach, it was just amazing! Wanting to catch a glimpse of a dockyard in Dalian I dropped the pin correctly on my Apple Maps guide once again. Located within a twenty minute walk I found myself at Dalian's Xianglujiao Xinhai Wharf. On it, D!

If truth be told I was supposed to meet up with a friend in Dalian, his lack of adventure and ability to think outside the box wasn't going to kill my current buzz. Securing an all important address, the communication between us ceased, it was for the best. I used my research and sense of adventure to find the wharf in Dalian that served a sense of 'Belfast/Liverpool port realness!' The cranes and industrial surroundings within the waters of that dock gave me a slice of something that I had wanted to see! I saw a mix of military, cargo and commercial vessels in one tight maritime space. The immediate area had been fashioned into a 'Liverpool One' like shopping complex, it was interesting to see such a regeneration project that oozed a western nature in China! Beijing being a landlocked city it had me feeling all kinds of memories from Wuhan because of the waters presented to me in Dalian, oh those waters! At that point I had seen quite a lot during a short space of time in 大连市!

Refreshed and styled for the night ahead, I didn't feel like getting a taxi to a certain bar that I had my sights set on. Walking the short distance from my hotel allowed me to be fronted with Dalian's Zhongshan Square. The nighttime had the square lit up with thousands of lights dazzling, I loved my life when I caught a glimpse of a billboard display that featured singer, Lizzo! Dalian's square reminded me of Changchun's People's Square but on a more tight knit scale with hints of Shenyang's own square also snatching certain likeness! I was ready for the night ahead, that nighttime skyline feeling had me walking all the way to the venue! Tucked downstairs I found the bar in-question, I ordered my drinks to find a quiet karaoke bar. It didn't take long before being invited onto a table where I joined some guys, one definitely caught my attention. That first night created the foundations for the following night in Dalian! Get it, D!

The next day saw me relax to the max, my hotel had cost me a small fortune so I wanted to enjoy my hangover in comfort. Making my own entertainment that afternoon, Dalian proved that certain delights are consistent with their healthy measures within China's North-east region. McDonalds was the chosen cuisine of the day, I relaxed until the sun had gone down. Dressing down in my vest-like t-shirt, jogger shorts and trainers, I headed back to the same venue as I did the previous night. There had been some shade thrown in my direction so I used an invitation at a nearby another table as the perfect ammunition that was needed. Dalian's underground Gay scene had me walking into a live Chinese cabaret show, complimentary beverages for me that night as I had a very nice new friend who covered my tab. The old proverb goes without saying, 'be careful what you wish for!' Boarding my flight the next morning with a headache of epic proportion it was time for my flight back to Beijing!

Devilish Dalian...

Joseph Harrison 

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