One of the beauties of living and working abroad is, you never know when the local holidays are, so you are often surprised whenever they DO come around – especially when they last for 12 days AND it happens to fall on your birthday which, in the States, never falls on a holiday. I love China if for none other than for that reason alone… 😀
So naturally, with such a long holiday, my colleagues and I planned and set off on an adventure. Not wanting to overdo it over this holiday, we decided to keep it local and took a train ride to a different city within our province. As you may have gleaned, the name of this city is Anshan.
Before departing, we of course had done some research, booked a hotel and located some things worth seeing while in the area. However, this hardly prepared us for the experience we actually had there. It was like something out the Twilight Zone. It was as if not a single person we saw in that city had ever seen a white person before. We saw jaw drops, double-takes, triple-takes, friends pulling on sleeves and pointing, stop-and-turn-arounds, you name it. At one point, in a local park full of elderly folk, it was so intense that we had to just put our heads down and keep walking as quickly as possible to escape the insane awkwardness we felt.
We also had no idea that this city was famous for its heavy industry and steel production… This starkly contrasted with the very nice hotel that we pooled our resources together to book. The Air Quality Index (AQI) for Anshan is almost perpetually in the red/purple zone – which is terrible for your health if you live there, not to mention the environmental harm. It certainly made us all feel happy to be living in Dalian where the AQI is mostly in the green and yellow and only every so often in the red. Fortunately we (other Dan and I) had brought our recently purchased Cambridge Co. masks with us that filter out 99.9% of all particulate matter larger than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) and even has a literal silver lining that kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses! A tad bit pricey, but totally worth it. Rachel totally felt it after walking and breathing in that pollution all day… 😦
Aside from these surprises, which were tolerable at least, there were some pleasant ones too. We went to see the Buddhist temple of the giant jade Buddha! A bit touristy, but totally worth it.
After a long day of walking and exploring, we finally made it back to our hotel to dig in for some serious relaxation and enjoyment of amenities! We went for a swim and soaked in the hot tub as soon as we could. Then afterward we hung out in the downstairs bar lounge for dinner and drinks listening to a solo saxophone player recite that more well-known Celine Dion tune. Before that, there was a self-playing grand piano playing nice music. All-in-all we had a fantastic evening, and we all slept pretty darn well!
The next day, after a hearty and delicious breakfast…
…we took a taxi to the land of a thousand mountains, Qianshan, for a day of hiking, temples, and picturesque Chinese landscapes.
After hiking for nearly 5 hours, we grabbed a taxi, hit the hotel to pick up our bags, then went to the train station to head to our next destination, Dandong (no seriously, that’s really the city’s name!). We had already booked a hotel there for that night. But unfortunately, what the concierge at the hotel failed to mention is that despite the fact that there IS a train that goes there, it is likely it will sell out because there is only ONE of them. We got there too late, and couldn’t get to where we needed to go, so we ended up forgoing Dandong for some other day, and headed home to Dalian to indulge in beer and burgers at our favorite Western-themed bar.
And that is that! Hope you enjoyed!