[I backdate posts for easy reference; I'll say I'm about 9 months behind to me feel a little bit better -- I've been terrible.]
June 2010 - Dalian, Liaoning Province, China
Is this Canada? Or is this China?
David and I spent two weeks in Dalian, a rarely visited city in Northeast China. Considering the enormous tourism industry in China, especially marketed to Hong Kong people (really cheap sightseeing), Dalian is considered completely untouched. No other Hong Kong tourists? It was great. Notice the clear blue sky in the pictures -- I'm pretty sure nothing was shot into the sky to make this effect. The weather and environment was fantastic here, one of the relatively unscathed cities in China.
David and I came here to take some mandarin lessons and to take a look at this city. Unlike the typical historic cities like Beijing or Xian, Dalian is relatively young but unlike other young cities like Shenzhen that purely grew in the past 20 years, Dalian has significant Japanese and Russian influence, which came out in the architecture. Read the Wiki page for a short summary; the history is quite fascinating. In addition, unlike Shenzhen, Dalian has pretty good city planning - evidenced by the wonderful tree-lined roads -- quite magnificent for China, I think.
It is called the "city of squares" -- as in those squares you'd find in Boston or London -- they're actually circles. The city is clustered around a number of major roundabouts, and instead of an ugly concrete structure in the middle, there is often a lot of green grass. Dalian has the most amount of green that I've seen in any Chinese city. There are a lot of *well-kept* parks, including the massive People's Square (this site is a 360 degree view of the park; unfortunately we don't have any good pictures of it.). The bottom pictures is with our lao shi in the also massive and new Xinghai square. The structure behind us is only one half of a "gigantic book" structure (imagine that we were facing the other half of the gigantic book laid out on the ground), to commemorate the city's 100 birthday as well as the return of Hong Kong in 1997. For a Chinese city, I still can't get over how clean it was.
But of course, this is still China, so there were sites of the following around the city -- a old and demolished stadium, but not yet cleaned up. I wonder how long it was lying there. It's scary -- it looks like an earthquake hit the city, but think it was just knocked down because a new stadium was built across the street in the massive Olympic Park. Overall, I'd highly recommend going to Dalian. There are also many side trips to scenic areas to take a look, which we unfortunately were unable to do. And if you ever want a mandarin tutor, we can recommend one that is decent and not that expensive!
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.