China's Liaoning: Surprise, Surprise!

China's Liaoning Province through the years has definitely surprised me in many ways, let me just say it's got something extra! Showing me a certain energy, I have found myself in Liaoning three times since 2017, something keeps me going back for more! From Shenyang to Dandong with the most recent visit to Dalian, it's time for me to tell the truth! Big Drag Energy in 辽宁省? 

From Heilongjiang to Liaoning I went on China's supersonic High Speed network, Shenyang was ready to take me away from the bone-chilling sub-zero temperatures of Harbin! Damn, Shenyang was still chilly during that Spring Festival holiday trip! With my hotel finding me, no mistakes could be made during mine and Shenyang's first encounter. 西关美食街 fronted me as I made my way to my JinJiang Inn hotel, it was meant to be! Dining on some seriously delicious 清真 food that evening had me in the right time and place. The next I walked the streets like it was a runway, I had Beiling Park in the palm of my hand, that frozen 'Central Park' looking location had me loving that Liaoning city the right way! I had all kinds of 'Hometown' feelings when I saw the 'TESCO' signage along 黄河南大街, the content was naturally very Chinese but I did find some 'TESCO Everyday Value' chocolate wafers! Marshal Zhang's Mansion looked fancy! During the nighttime, Shenyang showed me 'Glasgow' & 'Mia', 沈阳市 turned it right up! 

Shenyang had me feeling some kind of way the morning after the night before, I had made several choices. Making it back to my hotel had me discovering the city of Shenyang from a different angle, those construction projects were all up in my view! Mukden Palace had crossed my path the previous day, also a North Korean hotel had! Making it to Mukden Palace was a piece of cake, the snowy weather set the scene perfectly even though my hangover had me remembering snapshots of the previous night! The afternoon advanced into the early evening period, nevertheless I made my way from the metro to a larger than life statue of Mao Zedong. Mr. Mao looked as if he was trying to flag down a taxi, his circular location had him surrounded by a host of banks with a style of architecture, now Changchun would show me in 2018! Following up on that Korean connection, I used my Baidu Maps to locate Xi Ta Street. Dining at the Pyongyang Rainbow Restaurant had me entertained by State Media whilst I ate my food! 是! 

Liaoning Province found me back in its area two years after my initial arrival, Shenyang wasn't on my radar during that second provincial visit! Taking the Air Koryo flight into Pyongyang, DPRK meant I would be taking the train back from Dandong, China. After spending time in the North Korean border city of Sinuiju, I crossed the Yalu River back into the China Mainland. Dandong had me feeling desensitised with those everyday movements that I had already become accustomed to in China, that North Korean quiet had me feeling as if Liaoning Province had turned the volume up to the maximum level! Bright and early the next day I reunited with my Young Pioneer Tours guide, heading towards Dandong's Hushan Great Wall. Gazing through the barbed wire fence gave me a front row view of the borderline China's Liaoning shared with the DPRK. Breathtaking that vista certainly fared to be, I had never seen such a sight before that Dandong moment! Dandong's Jinjiang Mountain Park allowed me to reintegrate furthermore. 

Living my life in Beijing, China afforded me the chance to be within a night trains distance between Lia0ning's Dandong to the Chinese capital. Not taking the underground, I boarded a Yalu River boat trip where I discovered the ever mysterious Sinuiju, DPRK river shore. Hold up! Whispers in my ear told me that a lot of what I saw over on the Korean side wasn't all in working order, it was said the scene that faced Dandong was merely a facade? I could neither deny or confirm such a salacious allegation because I absolutely want to return to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the future! Back to dry land, I was able to walk along the Yalu River Broken Bridge, during the Korean War by the Americans. Along the bridge I could feel a jubilant and patriotic feeling that exuded from the Chinese visitors in that area beside the Yalu River. Dandong had brought me back to what I knew as my reality, I thanked that Liaoning city for a job well done! Leaving on the overnight train bound for Beijing, 辽宁省 wanted me back!  

Feeling blessed, I touched down at Dalian's Zhoushuizi International Airport feeling like a naturalised foreigner. I felt like an overseas local because life again in China had normalised for me, I spoke to my taxi driver in Mandarin Chinese, reading those signs I knew the weekend ahead would be just perfect! Dalian brought the rain showers during that first morning, feeling refreshed from my Holiday Inn sleep I made my way to Dalian's Russia Style Street. Dalian had been visited by Russian and Japanese friends way back when, their lasting cultural impressions had been one of the motivating factors for my Liaoning comeback! Getting my usual Russian chocolate had to be done, the brand called 'аленка' was in stock with may more varieties than I had previously seen in Harbin or on TaoBao. The little girl on the chocolate wrapper looks just how my Niece, Orla looked when she was a baby. Bartering like a good one in Chinese, I bagged several bargains including a Russian doll and some scarves. Dalian's vibe was on-point! 大连市! 

I had a mighty craving for some Russian food, consulting my 点评 APP, I was able to find just the place! Getting the underground right, I battled through torrential rain showers because I refused to buy an umbrella just for the weekend! Holding on, I shook off my sodden self when I reached 'Friday Russian Restaurant', that menu changed my life because a sense of comforting European dishes were on offer to me! Ordering a whole host of dishes I also cracked open a bottle of Baltika 3 to toast the day in Dalian. Turning another page, it was time for Dalian to show me another chapter during that 2019 Mid-Autumn Festival weekend. Shunning public transport, I walked all the way up to the waters edge at Dalian's Xianglujiao Xinhai Wharf. Serving me with views of a working port and dockyard, I was being served 'Port Of Liverpool' Realness! The day in Dalian had been major, I had so far seen everything and pretty much eaten everything! Dalian had grit about it, that much I appreciate but I wanted some glam! Listen up! 

Dressed in my best casual Autumn nighttime attire, I followed yet more directions but of a different kind. The meeting with a certain friend wasn't meant to be but I still secured those much needed co-ordinates. Walking the streets of Dalian to the venue had me feeling safer than safe, Dalian's Zhongshan Square charged me with all those electric feelings for the night ahead. The walk to that secret location had me feeling very secure within my Liaoning location, there would be no way I would feel that safe anywhere else in the world! No! The first night allowed me to gather by senses regarding the location, for research purposes I already knew that a few drinks wouldn't hurt me. Let me just say that Dalian's underground Gay scene allowed me to meet some interesting folk, naturally using mostly Chinese it was an interesting evening and night. The following day saw me resting up for the night ahead, like they say in the Far Northeast of China, there's a certain energy to be curious to explore. BB, Dalian stayed sublime! 我的天啊! 

Returning to the same bar the following evening had me taking a totally different course. Sipping on those drinks I got talking to a new contact, upon invitation I found myself at a much livelier venue. The majority male party-goers were enjoying the night as much as I was, securing beverages without stress I wasn't ready for the 'Big Drag Energy' that was only a few moments away from their performance. Sashaying onto the stage, three colourful performers took to the stage. No way did I expect to be graced with such a fabulous Drag show, in the shadows I have found many places in China. Those well rehearsed numbers had the crowd impressed, naturally I put my hands together to show my appreciation. In present day I can only reminisce about the song, '芒种' that was the anthem of the three performers captured in the image above. China's Gay scene may be a known secret but for the community they provide a safe space to kick back and appreciate the art that I had the chance to get my life to! Dalian's 彩虹人 came on through!

感谢你, 辽宁省!

Joseph Harrison 


  1. You really have had some great adventures. I bet the views were stunning.

    1. I have been truly blessed!

      Missing it all very much!

      Joseph - Desperately Seeking Adventure


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