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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dallying in Dalian

"China Best Tourist City"

"The Capital of Romance"

Since I haven't been able to get out of the compound except for training at the local horse track, I've been reading the tourist literature provided in each room at the Golden Pebble Beach Resort. I'm becoming drunk on the many splendors of Dalian.

View of Golden Pebble Beach Resort with worker's garden in foreground - squash, peppers, strawberries, eggplant

It is most famous for its "sinuous coast line" and "numerous squares that can be compared to inlaid pearls." The squares or plazas are what captivate this particularly effusive writer (and translator): "The manliness of Xinghai Square, the elegance of Zhongshan Square and the meaningfulness of Renmin Square, all present a galaxy of pleasure to one's eyes, intoxicate one's heart and crystallize into dulcet memories." Perhaps I can sneak out tomorrow and crystallize some dulcet memories on the streets of Dalian.

Dalian is widely regarded as one of the most pleasant cities in China to visit. If you tell someone in Beijing that you are headed to Dalian their eyes will get misty and they will sigh and say, "Ah, the most beautiful city in China." I suppose if you are up to your ears in Beijing traffic, smog and summer humidity, you might feel that way. The tourist book again chimes in noting that a common saying here is "Come to Dalian, open mouth widely, and breath deeply."

We've literally taken over the entire Golden Pebble Beach Resort. The only guests are members of the US Track & Field team, coaches or staff. There are, however, at least two or three times as many Chinese employees, security or volunteers sharing the compound with us. Wherever you turn, there is a guard, a resort uniform, or a maintenance worker. There is an office for the USATF staff to coordinate all the transportation to training venues and to/from the airport. The sports medicine staff have their own dedicated area near the sauna, pool, and small fitness center. I mentioned in a previous post that I had been using the ice tub. Ice is a commodity in China and not easily found. In order to get enough ice to keep the ice baths cold, the resort planned ahead. During the winter, they chipped out huge chunks of ice from a nearby lake and stored it in a refrigeration unit. At first we wondered why the ice bath had a slightly funky aroma to it. Now we know.

But it is beautiful and green and right near the coast. The geological formations along the coast are remarkable, earning the Golden Pebble Beach several names: “The Solidified Animal World," “The Natural Geological Museum” and “The Magic Sculpture Park." Looking out my window, I can see fishing boats bobbing in the water surrounded by nets and buoys. This morning I went looking for Ping the duck, but I think he lives in a different part of China on the Yangtze River.

I did find a work crew grooming the golf course. There were 10 guys mowing the fairways. They had one lawn mower and a truck. One guy was mowing the lawn and the other nine were raking the cut grass into little piles, stuffing the grass into bags and loading it on to the truck. Then they were driving the truck somewhere, unloading the grass, and returning to do the next fairway. For the hillier sections that the mower couldn't reach, they had two options: one guy with a weed-whacker or a pair of goats. Seriously, I only took the picture of the guys working with the mower, but the goats were very cute. Combine the goats with the vegetable gardens that ringed the area around the worker's quarters and you've got some good sustainable living going on. Throw in a few fish and sea cucumbers from the ocean, and you've got a meal.

Ten guys mowing the golf course (one is at the truck out of view)

Check older postings for some photos that I added recently.

1 comment:

pandapassport said...

Interesting observations.

Are you guys going to get a chance to come downtown? Lots of interesting stuff down here.