Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dalian - (大连)

After the overnight trip on the Dain ferry, I arrived in Dalian. It was quite a surprise. A very modern Chinese city. But still incredibly Chinese. I had decided that I needed a few days to get my bearing in China, even though I had been there twice before. Firstly I wandered to see how much the banking system had evolved. I was having trouble believing that it had become so modern so quickly. In the end it took three attempts to find an ATM that believed it talked to a foreign network to work. I also took out so much money (about $400) that I easily had enough, with what I had brought from Korea for the next three weeks of travel. (Though for the tour all my accommodation and travel were paid for.)

Dalian was a great place. These gay guys helped me find an Internet cafe. (网芭 Ithink) Initially they said it was Y1 per hour but it turned out to be Y2 (about $0.25). I found a cinema that had advertising for an interesting looking movie, but it was never open.

While traveling through the labour park (劳动公园), to get up to the TV tower, this person said g'day. He turned out to be from Balkum Hills and was living there with his Chinese wife. She was from Dalian. They had two girls, born in Australia. They were much more concerned with the simple task of purchasing a bus ticket than I, and she went to the bus terminal to check it out. They called me on the phone to explain the arrangement.

The next day I wandered off to the Russian part of town. Like many places in Northern China, Dalain owes much of it's existence to when it was part of Russia. It also had a strong Japanese influence. The Russian town was interesting, but mostly consisted of Russian buildings full of Russian traders selling Russian goods. It had the first KTV I had seen. I would not find out what they were for another two weeks.

The people in Dalian were generally friendly. They call it the HK of the north. I think this is an apt description. The people are friendly and helpful, but also generally busy and do not have much time.

On the second full day, I went down to the Modern museum. I wanted to go to a Qing museum, but the people in the tourist information center did not know where it was. They had to make several calls and then explained that I had to catch two buses. I was not confident with the buses and decided that the one bus trip journey to the modern museum was more the go. The museum was excellent It had many great displays and I pretty much had it to myself. I then wandered down to the sea front. As you can see from the photos it has more of a European feeling than a Chinese feeling.

On my fourth morning, I caught the bus to Shenyang. The buses in china have improved by an almost infinite amount. When I first traveled on an intercity bus we traveled from Chungching to Leshan. We put our bags on the floor to cover over the holes to reduce the wind. It was a classic old rust heap complete with chickens on the roof. They would overcharge anytime they could, lie about where they were going and the was a fight between the conductor and the passengers when the Chinese passengers were told that they would not go to a town they said they were going to go to. Now the buses are modern, clean and efficient. The chairs were vinyl, made to look like leather. It left on time and they now have motorways to travel along. It is a completely different experience. In many ways it is better than the train.



Afloat said...

Hi Brian, I like reading your stories in China. You are a careful observer and a good teller. This is just a perfect combination for holding an interesting blog.
I am just wondering what leads to so many enthusiasm of you for China. Your Chinese seems very good. As far as I can imagine, you must be very brave - as a western - to begin to learn Chinese.

P.S. the Chinese characters for 'Internet cafe' is 网吧. You are almost there with 网芭. Both are pronounced as 'ba'. 吧 = bar, 芭(蕉)= banana.

yewenyi said...

Hi, My enthusiasm for China is that I am half Chinese. My father was born in Ipoh, Malaysia, but my Grandfather was born in BokLoh in Gaungdung province. We are Hakka, though I suspect my grandmother was Hokien. I lived in Singapore until I was 6, but learned a mix of Hakka, Cantonese and Mandarin which has proven to be more of a problem than a benefit.

Thanks for the correction on the character. I am still learning how to type it in on the computer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian, I have never thought that you had some Chinese blood. Very interesting.

Perhaps it is already known to you, but still in case, here some information about your Chinese ancestors:
Bok Loh = Bolo (博罗), a county 200 km to the east of Guangzhou (Canton).
Hokien = Fujian (福建) A Chinese province

There are some prominent Hakka’s who share your surname Yap (Ye, 葉, 叶):
•Ye Jian Ying (葉劍英, 叶剑英), Meixian (梅县), Guangdong province, prominent Chinese Communist general, politician, whose son Ye Xuan Ping (叶选平) is former governor of province Guangdong. Here More information about him >>
•Ye Ting (葉挺, 叶挺), Huiyang (惠阳), Guangdong province, prominent Chinese Communist general.

The birthplaces of both Yap’s above are nearby Bok Loh.

Ye Qiao Bo (葉喬波, 叶乔波), Jilin province: world champion in speed skating (long track).

Hope that this is useful for you.

Anonymous said...

By the way, there are many Hekka's (客家人) live in province Fujian (Hokien)too.

yewenyi said...

Thanks, I remember my father saying that we are fujian yaps and the information is a help. I am hoping to go back there next time in China to do some family history research. Other people I know who are Hokkien are Sun Yet Sen and Lee Qwan Yu (ex president of Singapore). As a 1 year old living in Singapore I refused Lee Qwan Yu's offer of a handshake!

yewenyi said...

One day I will learn to spell! Of course that was Lee Kuan Yew. My mother says that I was frightened by the presence of the media and their lights.