Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

39. Dalian, China

Dalian, China

I was lucky; China Customs picked me for a face to face interview. They did not only pick me but a random selection of the passengers on board; they wanted to see all of us at midnight. No kidding, midnight. The problem was most people they selected were asleep at that time. What to do? The Ship’s Purser negotiated to have the face to face interview at 9.00 AM the next morning instead. And what was all this about? A Chinese woman had a list; maybe 30 people were on the list. You step up to her, passport in hand, she looked at the passport, hooked off the name in the list, glanced at you, nodded her head and off you go. Not a word was spoken. A very strange interview! Stranger even to want do this at midnight. Welcome to China.
Port of Dalian Building

We docked at Dalian at 11.00 AM but somehow the Chinese Border Security was already on board. Were they on board since Shanghai? After Shanghai we went to Korea, so did they go to Korea with the ship? Did they jump onto the ship like harbor pilots do at each port? When did they come on board? If they wanted a midnight interview they had to be on board, right? Again, very strange to have Chinese border guards on our ship while we are at sea coming from Korea. Stranger still to think we were being watched since we left where? Shanghai? Or even Inchon? Welcome to China. The hidden agendas of China give me the creeps!

Almost No People About
 There was an unnatural quiet at the Dalian Harbor. No band greeted us. We were the only large ship at the pier, not even a freighter was being loaded near by. Carol and I took a walk then took a taxi to the Wanda Mansion Complex. This is a newly built housing tower complex for the super rich. Does this sound right to you? I said for the Super Rich! Here in China? Yes in deed, super
Gates for the Wanda Mansion
rich. And Dalian, this city in the North of China is the residence of the richest man in China. This man has more money than Buffet. He alone owns Wanda, the corporation that recently bought AMC movie theaters in the U.S. (all of them) for 2.4 billion dollars, U.S. The same man just a few months ago, with the help of the Mayor of Chicago, announced he will build a new skyscraper on
Of Course the Only Open Entrance is Guarded
Wanda Mansion Buildings in Background
North Shore Drive that will become an icon of Chicago. What is the cost of the hotel, residence building? a mere 980 million U.S. dollars. There are many more such acquisitions in the U.S. by a selected group of Chinese billionaires. I just follow the Wanda Corporation.

Not many people have paid attention to this, or to the
Wall on the Side of the Wanda Complex
seemingly sleepy city of Dalian, way North in China. Dalian is a city that has seen its troubles in the past. It was a Manchurian City, and then a Chinese City, then Russian, then occupied by Japan and then it recently reverted back to China. The architecture, the mix of cultures, the city layout is so very different from any other place in China. Large parks, roads that radiate outwards from large roundabouts remind me of Paris. Some folks here on board thought it beautiful. Sure this is China, too.
Buildings Being Erected

We were only 6 hours in Dalian, not enough time to do much. Since my focus was the Wanda Corporation I did not visit down town nor the parks and or large Squares. Beijing claims Tiananmen Square is the largest public square. Not quite, Dalian’s public square is bigger.

I just took a few pictures of
Delivery By Motorcycle to the Wanda Mansion
buildings going up, walked over brand new, but already cracked sidewalks, watched a Ferrari Testa Rosa drive by and looked at the stunned face of a delivery guy on a shabby tricycle when he saw the car. There are two levels in China. The ‘have’ level of grandeur and wealth with Ferraris is one level and the level of the delivery guy who still pedals his bicycle in freezing cold weather to make
Really Cold in Dalian
deliveries is the other. There really is no middle class. Dalian has both levels but there seems to be an unusually higher number of the ‘haves’ here. One can judge by the buildings built and going up, anyhow.
The visit to Dalian was short. We are off to Beijing now and that is the end of my cruise adventures for a while. Last blog will most likely be from Beijing. 


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