Tip on : Dalian - 5 years ago
When most Australians go to live abroad for the first time, they usually take the "safe" option and go to the UK. If they are feeling extra adventurous, maybe they'll go to America or Canada. My best friend and I decided to go to Dalian, China, and I have no doubt in my mind that it was the best experience of my life.
When Chinese people refer to Dalian, they allude to one catch-phrase - "Dalian is a beautiful city," or "the pearl of the orient." While the beaches don't have the pristine sands of Western Australia, or the magnificent skyline of Melbourne, Dalian is undoubtedly one of the nicer cities of China.
Dalian is one of the smaller Chinese cities with only a population of about 6.2 million(yes this is small), but only has and urban population of about 3 million including a developmental zone.
Dalian governs the entire Liaodong Peninsula of North-East China, while mountains surround the northern end of the city, which makes for many-a lovely hiking trip through the mountains and surrounding townships. As Dalian is a seaside city, there are also plently of opportunities for strolls along the coast when weather permits.
As with most of China, there is also plenty to do and costs were minimal. As an English teacher, I was able to live on about 500RMB per week(about $70US) and this included eatling out every night, and having an active social life. Having travelled in most provicences of China, Dalian definitely had the best food, as unlike the rest of China, it food was niether sweet or laden with MSG. For $1 US, you could enjoy a tasty Chinese BBQ with lamb sticks and Corn bread, before heading out for an evening of drinking and playing Jenga or connect 4 at Noahs Ark or Dave's Bar.
In the summer, Dalian comes alive in it's many paks and squares where you can join in with the locals and play Hacky Sack(with a feathered ball thing), or a version of Duck Duck Goose they play where someone walks around everyone who are standing in a circle and drops the hankey behind you before being chased (sadly I got caught and ended up having to stand in the middle with the other losers singing "We Will Rock You". In Zhongshan Square, in the city, they also do dancing. In our mis-guided attempts however to learn the steps, we ended up leading the locals in dancing the "Nutbush" to their music!
Don't get me wrong, Dalian had it's drawbacks. Hygiene in retaurants, a hole in the ground for a toilet, the beaches had pebbles instead of sand, and communicating and accepting the beuracracy of their customs was often frustrating -as you would expect, but overall, Dalian was a fabulous experience, and I highly recommend it.