Spring Festival 2014: Galloping into the year of the Horse with style.

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January 28th 2014
Published: February 16th 2014
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Spring Festival 2014: Galloping into the year of the horse with an old friend.

After work being completed on Tuesday I finally get seven full days to myself to do with how I see fit. This spring festival I am returning to Dalian to see an old friend who was herself on a journey for the past year in the Middle East. I can’t tell you how many times that I wanted to join her in a new place so vastly different from everything I have known. But with the current time have she has returned to China to see her family and return to her regular teaching duties in Shenyang.

My own trip starts in Rizhao, Shandong where I finished packing for the few days that I will be gone. Making sure that everything was turned off I left, locking the door behind me. Making my way to find a taxi to take me to the bus station, knowing full well that I had to watch what I spent on, but taking it was a necessary thing that needed to be done. I got on the bus figuring it would take the normal 3 hours for me to get to Qingdao. But to my surprise it took half the time. So I had a choice, stay around Qingdao for a few hours or make my way to the airport where I was to go anyways. I decided on the later and made my way to the airport. So I got to the airport in Qingdao, for anyone who has travelled knows just how expensive the food is at airports are, Qingdao airport is no exception.

Waiting around for the flight was a pain, but needed. Several hours later, it’s time for the flight finally boarding I messaged my friend and turned off the phone. This is the same friend I wrote about last year. (Insert blog entry). Anyhow, as we board, to my bemusement we get taxied out to the plane. Well considering its only a 45 minute flight not surprised. The plane is small; part of me wished I had taken a photo of it. But anyone that has taken a short flight knows the size of these planes. As everyone finishes boarding and slowly gets into their seats the cabin crew starts to explain the in case of emergency 'kiss your ass goodbye because no one will be walking away' type thing. After which they start handing out the newspapers, Chinese copies of course that is until the guy doing it notices me and gets an English copy. As the flight was about to take off, I concentrated on the newspaper articles for as you are well aware that I am not all too fond of the take-offs and landings when landing.

Anyway, I get to Dalian once more for my second time. I leave the airport thinking that my friend was outside but of course I was mistaken. My friend was waiting for me as I exited the airport where people normally wait for the passengers disembark from the planes. We decided to take the airport bus into town to get to the hotel. After finally, getting to the hotel checking in I quickly jumped into the shower because I felt tired and lagged. Long day just to get here. After which my friend suggested that I get something to eat because I didn’t eat much leading up to me being in Dalian. So I got some instant noodles from the front desk, again being gouged by prices. Considering the time and the time of year I was there I knew finding an open store at ten thirty at night and a day before spring festival would be next to impossible. So I resigned myself to paying the price the hotel asked. I quickly scarfed down the noodles, and fell asleep. The next morning we proceeded to go to Jinzhou district of Dalian. Her home district. A wonderful area of the city, a pleasant area near the train station a statue that somewhat resembles sails on a boat for lack of a better description. We walked up to the hotel I stayed at the last time I was here. But the prices were a bit more than at the HOME INNS so off we went in search of the closest home inns hotel. To our dismay we had walked 2 kilometers in the wrong direction before we realized that we were heading the wrong way. As we were doubling back a friendly couple had explained that if we wanted to get to the hotel it would be quicker to follow them, since they were heading in that general direction to begin with. So we followed them, after a few moments my companion new where she was heading. We thanked them for their kindness and went on our way. Finally making it to our next stop checked in and dropping off my bags we went out once more to take some photos, as well I was invited to her family’s' home for dinner. I was honored by the invitation, but at the same time I felt out of place sort of speak. Dinner with her family was nice although somewhat quiet and uneventful we watch the gala that was broadcast nationally. A good programme, if I must say. So as the evening wore on, her mother spent most of the evening with her father whose health is failing.

The next day we walked around seeing some of the sites and also finding out when the next boat from Dalian to Yantai the cost and duration of the boat travelling. Ended up the time of travel is 6 hours and there wasn’t one at the time I wanted. The next boat was to leave Dalian at 9 pm and get to Yantai at roughly 3 am the following day and there was no boat leaving for Yantai on the 2nd of the month. So in a way it was fortunate that I was able to get this passage done on the 1st of February. So for the next several hours my friend and I walked around Dalian near the Train station. We found the Starbucks that I visited the last time I was in Dalian. We had a cup of hot chocolate and bought two mugs. We sat around for several hours there sipping our drinks. During which I had stepped out to walk around stretching my legs and taking pictures of the neighborhood before returning to sit and wait. After which we had set forth to slowly make our way back and wait for the bus to take me to the boat. We walked past the Burger King which I had not had in several months since I had left Dongguan. We entered and had purchased some burgers, placing one into my bag for the boat ride to Yantai and eventually Rizhao. My heart was sinking for I knew the time was coming closer to leaving my companion one whom I had developed a deep bond with. We eventually got back to the train station and the bus was waiting to take the passengers to the boat. I slowly board the bus saying goodbye to my companion wishing her a safe journey back to her parents home and the remaining days of the festival a joyous one. The bus after several moments started to lurch forward and started its trek to the port where the passengers of the bus would make their way through the check point making sure everyone had their tickets for the boat. I looked at it and this being my only second boat trip in China; nay I should say ever, it was massive. I brought up my camera to take a photo of the massive boat only to find out that my camera didn’t have enough power to take a picture and promptly shut itself off. I reached into my bag to retrieve my lowly compact camera and to realize that the screen was broken and thus of no use to me. So bringing out my phone I snapped a few photos, not the best but what can you do. As I boarded the boat from the rear, we walked ahead through the car port, and up tight fitting steps towards the passenger compartments. We got to the first floor where people could actually sleep; I showed my ticket and was instructed to go up another flight of steps. So of course I did so, and met two other people who worked onboard and one showed me to my cabin. I took off my bag and found the nearest plug to recharge my battery for both my camera and phone which was also losing power. So I plugged in the battery of my camera and left it to charge enough to take some photos of the boat before allowing it to recharge for the duration of the trip. While the battery was being charged I took a small walk to get my bearings of where everything was. The boat itself was spacious and well kept. The people seemed very friendly and knowledgeable. I ran into my brief companion that was helpful on my journey to the boat guiding me in where to go and when. When I returned to my room I had found that 3 other people had entered, not that I was surprised a family had taken root in the room. Mother, father and daughter. We eventually dozed off in brief intervals not wanting to fall into a deep sleep because of when we would dock.

I barely got any sleep that night and time did go rather fast on the boat. We finally docked in Yantai and instead of taking the taxi to the bus station i decided to walk. At a quarter to 4 in the morning I finally left the docks and started walking towards the bus station I followed the group of people towards downtown of the district. As I followed the group in front of me not knowing where I was going. I got to the intersection closest to the docks and turned down the street. The group was about 50 to 100 meters ahead of me. From time to time I would pause to take photos even though it was almost 4 in the morning. As I walked eventually I came to an underpass which as I said before I just followed the group of people ahead of me. Walking through the underpass didn't take long, I would assume about 100 to 150 meters coming up on the other side about another 50 meters was another intersection. On my side of the street was a hotel. At this point i was unsure if the bus station was actually open or not. I had stepped into the hotel to ask how much a room costed and the gentleman at the front desk was a bit confounded, it seemed he did not know what to do because it seemed that he had never spoken to a foreigner before. Than I decided to ask where the bus station was and how far it was from the hotel. All he could do was point. After about 20 minutes to get him to actually to speak; I found out that the bus station was a mere 200 meters from where I was beside the KFC. So I thanked him, bought a pack a smokes and left. Walking towards the bus station I knew that soon I would have my ticket back to Rizhao. After a few moments I arrived at the bus station and fortunately the person at the information desk spoke English and was able to help me find the earliest time I could get from Yantai to Rizhao. 12 1 Yuan and about 4.5 hours on a packed bus with others going there as well. The earliest didn't leave until 7:30 a good 3 hours away. So after buying the ticket, I went next door to have something to eat and to pass the time until the bus were to leave. After some time, I decided to check into and wait for the bus inside the bus station. I waited until the bus came. Finally my time had come to board the bus, My seat was at the back of the bus in the middle aisle. The bus ride home was rather uneventful given that i slept most of the journey back to Rizhao. Returning to Rizhao at a little past 12 in the afternoon. and returning to my home a little past one given that i had to get some lunch. My journey to Dalian and back was a trip worth taking.

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