Dalian: Zip-wires, Weddings and a Pair of Handcuffs…


Today we decided that we would walk around the south coast of Dalian to try to find a more secluded beach. The travel guide had indicated that there were one or two beaches that not many people new about and were hence virtually empty. We took the bus (all buses in Dalian seem to be 1 Yuan/7p per person for however long you wish to travel for) to the start of the trail and walked past some of the tourists. We found the retired navy ship which was now a youth hostel, the other one we had looked at, but thought it would be too difficult to find in a taxi). As we walked further along, we saw a zip-wire stretching across the bay, and so I just had to do it. For 50 Yuan (£3.50) I got a speed-boat to the other side of the bay (perhaps 1 kilometre away), ran half way up a mountain to be strapped into a quite worn safety harness, and then got pushed off the edge. It didn’t go too fast, but it was a little scary looking down and just seeing the ground about 100 metres away, and myself moving towards it rather rapidly. The ride itself must have lasted about 1 minute, and there were some really good views from half way over the bay of the surrounding mountains. I should have taken my camera and taken a video or some pictures, but i was a little worried that I would end up in the water, because the zip wire was designed for Chinese people and I had seen someone get their feet a bit wet already.

Just as we were walking along the slightly less touristy bit, I heard a voice call out ‘Mar-k!’ and turned to see Mr Nie, the businessman in charge of ISEC running towards me with a big grin on his face. I had no idea that he would be in Dalian of all places, especially given he lives in Shenzhen, about 2000 miles away, next to Hong Kong. We also met Francis and several other people that we knew, who seemed to be on holiday with him. China seems rather a small place after all. After chatting to them for a few minutes, we went and started walking along the winding hill road. We met several Chinese people along the way and talked (very briefly) to them. Briefly, mostly because they spoke no English and the only Chinese that I know how to say is ‘we are students from Cambridge university). We walked past some glorious sea and mountain views, which explains why so many hotels and restaurants in this area are called ‘sea mountain’ or something very similar.

After about 3 miles we came across this building which had a big Christian cross on top and stained glass windows. It was quite obviously a church, but looked rather like someone had made a list of five important features of a traditional western church building and then given it to an architect who had never seen one before. As we got closer, we saw that there was a white carriage outside it, and attached to it was the ‘century sweetheart wedding store and hotel’. Walking further along the road, we saw that there were several more wedding shops and various hotels which seemed to exclusively cater for weddings. To be honest it was a pretty nice place, and I could understand people wanting to get married there, but it seemed kind of ironic that there were so many wedding places along the road.

Walking further along, we stopped to have some elevenses on a bench on top of a cliff, overlooking the sea – such a picturesque view! A random Chinese man came up to us and started chatting, which was quite nice although again we didn’t really know enough Chinese nor he English to have much of a conversation. Eventually, we came to a rather interesting ‘wedding park’. This was basically a piece of land which you paid 10 Yuan (70p) to go into (half-price for students) and there were various cheesy shots and love-hearts etc. We went in because we saw that it had a private bathing area, and after going down a rickety, overgrown path for about 250 meters, we finally arrived on the beach. It was indeed lovely, and we had it to ourselves save for two other people who left after a while. There were rocks on one end and then a beautiful stretch of small rocks in the middle, with some more boulders at the other end and some caves beyond that which I tried to get to but couldn’t quite manage safely. There was also a small stream which had trickled down the hill and a small hut owned by the person in charge of the beach. We spent a good few hours there before heading up to the top of the hill.

As we were going out of the entrance, we saw a car full of policemen driving rather quickly into the park, with lights flashing but couldn’t really understand why, because we couldn’t hear or see any disturbance. Having left the wedding park, we tried to get a taxi ride back to our hotel, which usually wouldn’t be much of a problem, but as this was quite a remote place, there weren’t too many taxis going by. Anyway, a guy came up to us offering his taxi services (there are many people in China who are just private taxi drivers, but do so illegally without a license). We negotiated a reasonable price with him and then he took us to his car, which was right next to where the policemen had sat down to have lunch. We had a brief chat with the policemen, teaching them to count in English, and then got into this guy’s car. We were also illegal in the sense of having 5 passengers in the car, but the police who were sat there didn’t seem to mind in the slightest, in fact they seemed rather jolly. As we were driving off in the car, I had a look at the front windowsill and saw sat there a police badge, several radios, an electric baton and a pair of handcuffs! On the back windowsill there was also a full police uniform, which would have been a really good buy if we’d had enough courage at the time. It turns out that the driver was in fact an undercover policeman who was on his lunch break and decided to make a little extra money. Such is China!

In the afternoon, we had a bit of a rest and a nap as it is usually too hot to do anything apart from lie on a beach, and we didn’t want to get too sunburnt or face the crowds of fat Russian sunbathers again. In the evening, we got the bus into central Dalian and found a nice noodle restaurant to eat in. We then went on search of Karaoke, but instead ended up at a night market where we bought various souvineers. In the end, we found some KTV but the good ones were full, and the bad ones had no English songs, so we went to bed instead.

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