Saturday July 14, 6:30 am.
*****click here to see my new YouTube video from Dalian*****
First full day in Dalian is history. We started out going to the free breakfast at our hotel. It was not what I expected. Lots of green salty vegetables, a few of which were, according to my friend Miao, “from the sea.” Miao seemed to enjoy her breakfast, as did the other 75 people that were waiting for the chow bell to strike at 7am. Me? I ate a few pieces of “cake” that was actually quite delicious (think jiffy cake with no frosting) and a few cookies that were also good. I was a little embarrassed though because Miao knew how hungry I was and then all I got was about 2 cubic inches of cake and 4 little cookies. She insisted that we then go to get more breakfast for me, but I refused, and was actually looking forward to that hungry feeling since I wanted to lose weight on this trip anyways.
After breakfast, we walked in the general direction of the Chinese post office (“Yoh Jue”). On our way there, we walked through this huge outdoor park called “Labor Park” where lots of elder Chinese people were practicing martial arts, playing sports, playing cards, or chatting with fellow old people. I don’t know exactly what they were talking about, but I don’t think they were bitching about rising medical costs. These old people were kicking over their heads, swinging heavy metal swords, twisting, bending and balancing and if they had all been 20 years old you would have said “Ah, to be young again…” It was really quite a site.
On our way to the post office, we passed several gentlemen sleeping on the sidewalks. They had pillows, and were fully dressed, and appeared to be just like any other Chinese person on the street. Miao told me these were migrant workers from rural areas that work in Dalian, but do not have a place to sleep. So they sleep on the sidewalk.
At the post office, I had to mail about 15 bottles of pills to my friend Jun in Taiyuan that I brought over from Omaha. Co-enzyme Q-10, Gingko Biloba, and 5 boxes of estee lauder eye cream for his wife. Jun is a professor of bio chemistry at a university in China, and I met him in Omaha through a craigslist ad I placed looking to trade Chinese lessons with English lessons. He is really cool, and later in this trip Miao and I will be staying in his city for a few nights and visiting tourist spots.
Anyways, the post office was really cool, it was about 8 am by this time, and I think we were the first ones there. They had a counter where they boxed up your stuff for you. It cost 12 yuan ($1.60) to get Jun’s stuff boxed up, and another 70 yuan ($9.34) to send it next-day air to him.
Next on the agenda was an internet cafe. I wanted to check my account balances to see what fee I was charged to use the ATM here the night before. It was only a $2.50 fee, and the exchange rate I got was 7.47 yuan/dollar, while the official rate at the Bank of China was 7.49, so it was almost the same.
The internet cafe was neat, it was a big room in the basement of a shopping center that must have had about 200 terminals. Along one wall of the room were little 2-terminal booths that had little couches you sat on, so 2 people could surf the net together in a little bit of privacy. All of the computers had headsets with microphones, ashtrays, and webcams. It cost 2 yuan/hour, and Miao and I were there almost 3 hours I think. Miao fell asleep while I was posting my travel blog, and I even got to talk to my mother and father on Skype. I don’t want to get too personal on the internet, but I do want to say that a family member back home got ill and it was nice to be able to talk on Skype to them so early in my trip. Get well soon you-know-who!
After leaving the internet cafe, it was nearly noon and we were both hungry. We walked by a stand in the street selling bananas, and bought a small bunch of them. We went downstairs in another big shopping mall and ate at a cafeteria-style eatery. I was in luck, as I had 5 honey-bbq chicken wings for lunch, and by this time we had probably walked 2 miles.
In the shopping mall, there was this little stand selling these Chinese “hanging thingees” for lack of a better term. They were so cool! I am including a picture of the “Young Mao” one that I bought.
On our way back to the hotel after our errands, we walked by a Starbucks. I had my wifi-detector gadget with me and it was registering a full-strength connections, so I whipped out my PowerBook and sure enough, free wifi at Starbucks! I didn’t do anything at that point in time, but later in the day Miao and I went back and I got to Skype with my friend Chris in England, for free, in the comfort of a posh Starbucks! Much better than the dingy internet cafe.
We walked back by Labor Park as we headed home for the day, and I was able to get a GPS reading from my Garmin E-trex. If you want to see my neighborhood for the next 3 weeks, you can punch in these coordinates in Google Earth: N38 54.761 E121 37.980
That is about it from Dalian for today. Thanks for reading and I will post another update soon. I won’t be posting every single day, but as I have time I will put something up now and then “silently” so you don’t get tons of emails every time I fart… but you can check the blog now and then and there might be something new.