February 15th, 2009 – by: LivYorDrem
The Botanical Garden
It took some time to clear immigration into Dalian so it was about 10:30 am before we could get off the ship. Since we only had 4 hours or so, I decided to take the shuttle bus into a central point in the city, which was a mistake. I should have trusted my instincts and done what I had originally had planned. Cities don’t interest me and neither does shopping. The bus left us off at a shopping mall in the middle of Dalian’s skyscrapers. So I immediately hailed a taxi and after a game of charades with the driver and a Chinese phrasebook, I told him I wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens. The phrasebook works on occasion but not how you’d think.
If I say what I think it says, no one understands. But if I show them the book where someone cleverly put the words in Chinese characters, they read it and understand. So in a way it works! The Botanical Gardens in mid- February on a day where the wind chill factor is about 10 degrees is probably not the most logical choice but it was the only area that resembled nature that I could find on the internet. The taxi let me off at the end of a street market for the locals. It was an interesting diversion to arrive at the Sunday produce market. I was the only non-Chinese person there. There was all kinds of fruit, vegetables and fish products for sale. There were actually silk moth cocoons for sale that I had seen at the Beijing night market. So I guess some Chinese actually do eat those! There were seafood products including dried shrimp in 5 or 6 different piles, oysters, clams and even fish.
At the end there were a few vendors selling flea market type things.
Street market - Now you see it...
I found the garden which had some nice paths through the trees that had no leaves but at least there were trees! I ran into several Chinese people who were out for their morning exercise. I got many quizzical looks as I stood there gazing into the trees with binoculars. At which time I would pull out my bird book, fan the pages and receive nods of understanding and even some thumbs up. In a little out of the way corner, there was a group of men playing what I can only guess to be a game or perhaps a friendly wager here and there.
I found several new birds for me. My count, for those of you who are interested (that would be you Aunt Judy!) is now 19 species in China of which 14 are new to my life list.
I left the garden and headed back though the street where the market was to catch another taxi. To my surprise, it was gone. They had packed up and left the street to the clean up crew. So I was lucky to see it when I arrived.
now you don't!
I walked a few blocks to explore a bit. I was off the tourist track which I enjoy. I ran into some street scenes that I liked. One was a nice side road of what looked to be very nice houses. And the other was a girl giving a man a shave on the street. Remember, it is very cold and I am bundled up and still freezing!
I was now ready to go back to the ship. I am improving on how to get a taxi to stop. I thought I had figured out how to give the directions to the ship to the driver.
I brought with me a postcard of the ship from my room. It had worked fairly well in Tanguu when I boarded the cruise. So I handed the card to the driver who looked at it blankly then turned it over, still blank. So I resorted to charades again, pointing in the direction that I thought the ship was, getting out the phrasebook and trying to find “passenger terminal” or “cruise ship port” in it. Finally he blurted “Ah, sea port!” I said “Yes!” And we were on our way.
Back on the ship, they had some hot chocolate waiting and I was glad to get out of the cold. I was having pain issues and my own personal energy crisis so I was ready to call it a day, even though it was only early afternoon. I went to lunch and then back to my cabin. We were supposed to do our safety drill so I didn’t want to lay down for a nap.
I was afraid I would miss the announcement and my room steward would find me napping! They do clear the cabins so you can’t skip out on the drill! We were also supposed to do something about our passports since we were leaving China today. I think the original plan was that Chinese immigration required every passenger to personally have their passport stamped so all 700 of us were going to traipse through a lounge to do that before we left. We were supposed to leave at 3 PM. By 2:45, there were still no immigration officials on board. Finally, they decided that Plan A was not going to work. By the time they figured it all out, we ended up not having to go in person and I assume all our passports were stamped in our absence (since the ship crew had collected them up at the start of the cruise). In the end, we were cleared to depart but not until 4 hours after our intended departure.
We finally did our safety drill and I was free to call it a day. Which I did at 6 pm. That’s just sad but I needed the rest. The worst part is that I missed dinner! Oh man, all that good food never to be had. I did hear the announcement that our arrival into Incheon, South Korea will be late which again leaves us only about 5 hours in the port. Since I have no plans, I am not too upset but many shore excursions are being cancelled and rearranged.
at the Botanical Garden