Month One in Dalian

Trip Start Aug 01, 2007
Trip End Jul 05, 2008

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Photo of my apartment building with arrow at my 24th floor pad. This building is concrete, would be at home anywhere in the world, except probably the US.  This same developer has 6 buildings near here, probably 1500 apartments in a 3 block area.  It's a very comfortable neighborhood.  Close to downtown and several great pedestrian streets, and not far from the railroad station, Russia Street and probably 50 restaurants within 4 blocks, all Chinese except for Korean, Japanese, Russian, Italian, and Spanish.  

Typical street scene.  There are so many people around that it's hard to get street pictures, either because there are too many people watching or because there are too many people in the way. 

The August international beer fest.  Chinese version of German beer and food.  German rock and roll band, probably pretty good if it mattered.

China, or at least Dalian is entertainment for me.  It's a relatively wealthy city being one of the 14 enterprise cities under the 1 country, 2 systems scheme.  That means the the 2nd system gets to be free market world economy while they still get to buy up food and supplies from their 3rd world countrymen.  I'm all for it.  The whole seems to be a conversion of a small 20th century Chinese city into a showcase example of what China can do with a deep water port and freedom to trade globally.  Starting in 1966 with the Cultural revolution, and gaining speed in 1976 when that program ended, the central gov't realized how strategic Dalian was for shipping and started pouring resources into the area.  This was after 60 years of Russian and Japanese occupation who were trying to do the same thing.  Dalian was the termination of Russia's Trans-Siberian railroad.  They tried very hard to keep it - too hard in fact, so the Japanese booted them out in 1905, and would not let China back in until after WW2.   

Furniture, computers, and cars are almost the same price as the US, though I did buy a computer table for $15 in a supermarket that would probably have been $100 in the US.  Audi's are very popular here, but also lots of Ford, Toyota, VW.  I can't find a printer here for what they sell for in the US.  Lots of retail here too, but I'm getting the impression that turn over is slow.  Many of the stores have had the same merchandise on display for the past month.

Dalian is very safe.  Everyone is on the street - kids, couples, old, young, high class and low.  I saw a vagrant this week who had a pet monkey.  The monkey was cleaner and had more character than most street creatures.   Generally the place is friendlier than the US. 
There's virtually no crime here.  The cop who I registered with advised me to keep my door locked, but I think that was just for show.  I'm pretty careful, but about the worst that can happen is I would pay an extra 5 yuan for some fruit ($.75) from a vendor who knew I wouldn't make a fuss.  Clothes, food, beer, and housing are dirt cheap - maybe 30% of US rates. 

The people are engaging.  There are a few aggressive personalities, but the whole tone is off an octave from the tenor in the US .  They seem to know community very well, appreciate that it's a group effort, and try to make things work.  Dalian is a tourist destination for Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Russians, but very few Europeans or Americans.  

The locals like US money, and have regard for America, and their perspective is very global, at least here in Dalian, with lost of shipping and industrial production almost all for the overseas markets.  Several entertaining shopping malls, one that claims 400,000 sf and it's mostly vendors in 150 sf shops.  All underground. 

Great public squares.   Also some respectable architecture, historic (100 years old) and new.  Some European developers, but also Asian that are OK, if not pretty good.  The Chinese also like bright colors.  Lots of exterior lighting and all of it animated.  My plumbing and electricity work fine.  Internet is not so hot, lots of slow traffic and many blackouts. 

I don't like the food.  More to come on that subject.  Beer is good though, even a few micro breweries in the better restaurants. 

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