Saturday, 2 October 2010

Dalian

Dalian 大连市

Dalian is the southernmost city of the Northeast region and is situated on the narrowest part of the Liaodong peninsula. The city, which was recognised as one of the 3 best Chinese cities for tourism, is sandwiched between the Yellow Sea 黄海 to the east and Bohai Sea 渤海 to the west which allows it to enjoy a significantly milder climate as compared to the rest of the Northeast region.

The city could trace its roots back to 1858 when the British occupied the settlement and named the nearby port Port Arthur after one of Queen Victoria's son. The port is known as Lüshunkou 旅顺口 today and is primarily used as a naval base by the Chinese Navy. This port has immense strategic value as it does not freeze over in winter and it is sheltered by the numerous steep hills in the peninsula.

Following brief periods of occupation by the Chinese and Japanese, the city came under formal Russian rule in 1898 and was officially named as Dalny. The city was ceded to the Japanese after the Russo-Japanese war in 1932 and became part of Manchukuo as the city of Dairen. The city was finally returned to the Chinese government in 1955 after a period of postwar development and governance by the Russian and Chinese government.

Dalian is linked to the rest of the Northeast region by the excellent Shenda Expressway 沈大高速. Widely touted as one of the better highways in the country, the 4 lane carriageway features proper rest stations at regular intervals for drivers and passengers to take a break on the 4 hour drive between Shenyang and Dalian. A high speed railway is currently being constructed between the major Northeastern cities and will halve the current travelling time.
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Map of Dalian and location of places featured in this post (courtesy of Google Maps)
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Xinghai Square 星海广场

Located on the southern coast of the city, Xinghai Square features over 45,000 square metre of open space and overlooks the Xinghai Bay which empties out to the Yellow Sea.

The focus of the square is an ornate white marble pillar which was erected to commemorate the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. It is 19.97m tall and has a diameter of 1.997m.
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Another monument is located near the southern edge of the square and resembles an open book to symbolise the beginning of another chapter for the coastal city. The 'spine' is creatively adorned with an artwork which features the footprints from the city's residents.
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Numerous metal mesh sculptures depicting various popular sea sposts are also placed around the park.
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Pigeon feeding is a popular recreational activity among the visitors to the park.
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Xinghai beach. Despite the 23 degrees Celsius temperature and gusting winds, many continue to brave the chill to stretch out and relax. The Northeastern provinces are totally landlocked with the exception of the Liaodong peninsula where Dalian is located at.
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Horse drawn carriages are available for visitors who wish to experience a different method of exploring the square.
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Binhai Road 滨海路

Binhai Road is a coastal road which follows the southern coast of the city from Xinghai Square to Donghai Park in the east. This road is very popular among couples as the relative isolation and the seaside scenery creates a romantic ambience for a leisurely walk.
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Dalian Forest Zoo 大连森林动物园.
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The Sunshine School 阳光学校 is one of the most exclusive schools in Dalian, and school fees can reach up to a few thousand yuan for just a single month!
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North Bridge 北大桥. This suspension bridge was built in 1987 to commemorate the establishment of friendship ties with the Japanese city of Kitakyushu 北九州市. There is a local tradition for newly wed grooms to carry their wives across this bridge as part of their wedding celebrations.
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Tiger Beach Sculpture 老虎滩

The unusual name of this beach is due to the shape of a steep seaside rock cliff which resembles that of a sleeping tiger. However, as with many other such rock formations in China, vivid imagination is often required to relate the shape to its namesake.

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A huge lifelike sculpture of 6 running tigers is situated at a recreational square which was built in front of the cliff. With strong seaside winds gusting in from the south, kite flying is a popular activity here.
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Assembled out of 5,000 individual pieces of carved granite, the 35.5m long artwork was commissioned by Han Mei Lin 韩美林 and is the largest of its kind in the country.
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Singing Birds Woods 鸟语林 is located across the square and features a gigantic cage which houses thousands of birds. This attraction is also linked to other attractions in the Tiger Beach area with a cable car system.
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Russia Cultural Street 俄罗斯风情街

Much effort was put in by the mayor of Dalian City, Bo Xilai 薄熙来, to preserve the unique Russian and Japanese heritage of the city amidst the rapid pace of development in the past few decades. The old Russian settlement which is located north of the main railway station had been preserved and the buildings now house various souvenir shops and boutique hotels.

The light fog and cool evening air allowed visitors to feel that they are in a mountainside town instead of being in a coastal city.
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A chance meeting of 2 dogs.
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Numerous streetside bazaars along the street hawk every imaginable kind of Soviet memorabilia and souvenirs. However, the 'Russian' souvenirs sold here often tend to be made in China instead!
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Dalian Nautical School 大连船舵技术学校
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Victory Square 胜利广场

Victory Square is the main shopping district in the city and is located across the busy Dalian Railway Station. In addition to mega shopping centres which carry well known international labels and brands, shoppers can also take their pick from the many street bazaars and a mazelike underground shopping centre which is located below the square.
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There were not many shoppers on a cold, wet and foggy Friday afternoon, which allowed for a leisurely shopping experience. As with many other Chinese cities, international branded goods and electronics are often cheaper back in Singapore.
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Dalian is renowned for its fresh and succulent coldwater seafood which is served at many of the restaurants in the city.
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A Transport Enthusiast Haven - Dalian's Trams, Trolleybuses, BRT and Buses

Dalian has much to offer for the transport enthusiast as almost every conceivable form of public transportation can be found in the city. This ranges from modern airconditioned articulated buses to old trams, as well as the odd horsedrawn carriages which can be found at Xinghai Square. In addition, Dalian also has a LRT system which links the city centre to the northern suburbs but it is not covered in this post due to the very limited free time which I had during my brief visit.

The fares are also very affordable at a flat fare of only RMB1-2 (S$0.21-$0.42) for most services on a reliable and professionally run public transportation system.

Transport enthusiasts would also find the road network in this coastal city to be very well organised and easy to navigate. There is also a minimal chance of bicycles and motorcycles obstructing photos of buses and trams as the local government had banned the new regisration of motorcycles due to safety reasons. Moreover, the hilly terrain is also not suitable for commuting on bicycles.

Tram 有轨电车

The tram network in Dalian is one of the only 3 continuously operating tram lines in China, with the other 2 being in Changchun and Hong Kong. The electric tram system started operations in 1909 by the South Manchuria Railway which was governed by the Japanese. There are currently only 2 remaining tram routes in the city, which are service 201 and service 202.

Service 201 is the more interesting service of the two for transport enthusiasts as the old Witt type DL3000 trams are exclusively deployed on this route. This route runs on a east to west routing between Melody of the Sea Park 海之韵公园 and Xinggong Street 兴工街. The route details can be found from the link below from Mapbar:-
http://bus.mapbar.com/dalian/xianlu/201lu/

At busier stops such as at Dalian Railway Station, a segregated plaform is used for crowd control. The tram stops at an alighting platform to disembark passengers before moving forward to allow passengers to board.
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A Witt Type DL3000 tram at Market Street 市场街 stop. The centre double width door is exclusively used for alighting, while the other 2 doors at either end of the tram are used for boarding. There is a tram conductor/operator stationed at either end of the tram to manually operate the doors and ensure that passengers pay their fare.
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An older Witt Type DL3000 stock is photographed together with a newer DL6WA stock behind. The older Witt Type stock has a single step after the entrance, while the newer DL6WA stock are low floor.
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A combined bus and tram stop at Market Street. The bus and tram stops provide basic information about the route and the operating hours.
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7-2275 approaches the end of its trip at Xinggong Street terminal. The tram journey is reasonably fast although service 201 runs on non reserved tracks and are subject to traffic and traffic lights.
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Interior of a Witt Type DL3000 tram. The trams running today were rebuilt by the Dalian Public Transport Company in 2007, but the operator undertook great pains ensure that the interior remained as authentic as possible. This included the wood panelled sidewalls, brass grab poles and ornate lighting fixtures. The ride quality was also preserved when the trams were rebuilt as they groan, creak and rattle along the route - just like how they would had in the past.
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'Dashboard' of the Witt Type stock trams with the old fashioned mechanical regulator and speed controller.
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The newer DL6WA bi-articulated trams also service route 201. The tram operators, timekeepers and route managers are exclusively female.
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The tram terminus at Xinggong Street for service 202 is located a short distance away from the terminus for service 201. Service 202 runs on a north-south route between Xinggong Street 兴工街 and Xiaoping Island 小平岛. The route details can be found in the link below from Mapbar:-
http://bus.mapbar.com/dalian/xianlu/202lu/
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The DL6WA stock has a full width LED display which scrolls to indicate the route details. However, as service 201 and 202 do not have a common stop along the route, the LED display is rather redundant as a result.
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Interior of a DL6WA stock tram which has a maximum capacity of 240 passengers. There is a conductor posted at every entrance to ensure that fare is collected from each passengers. Thus, a typical DL6WA tram is operated by 1 tram operator and 2 conductors.
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Modern fully automatic electronic dashboard of a DL6WA stock. It is a far cry from the mechanical controls used on the Witt Type stock!
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Trolleybuses 电车

Service 101 is the only remaining trolleybus service in the city, and runs between Dalian Railway Station 大连火车站 and Malan Square 马栏广场. The route details could be found in the link below from MapBar:-
http://bus.mapbar.com/dalian/xianlu/101lu/

B08739 approaching Dalian Railway Station on a wet and foggy morning, and has an advertisement to promote Fotile brand kitchen appliances which was endorsed by Liu Qian, a popular Taiwanese magician. Articulated trolleybuses alternate with rigid trolleybuses on this route.
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B08177, a Yangzijiang 杨子江 rigid trolleybus, was photographed disembarking passengers at the Dalian Railway Station.
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Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)快速公交

Dalian has a very limited Bus Rapid Transit system that comprises of a single line that runs between Xinggong Street 兴工街 and Meilin Garden 美林公园 in the northern suburbs using a fleet of license built MAN 猛狮 low floor citybuses which are assembled by Huanghai 黄海. The buses run on a reserved carriageway in the middle of the road.

BA5209 is a 18m long Huanghai DD6187S09 articulated bus which is based on the MAN Lion City. As such, it sports the German bus manufacturer's badge and distinctive front mask.
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BA5608 is a 12m rigid Huanghai DD6127S01 which has a green livery to differentiate it from the articulated buses which has a maroon livery intsead.
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Public Buses 公交车

Service 16 comprises of a full fleet of Nanjing Jinling 南京金陵 JLY6120SCK non airconditioned double decks, and it is also the only service with double deck buses in Dalian. BB2658 is photographed awaiting for departure outside the Dalian Xinghai Convention and Exhibition Centre 大连星海会展中心.
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The bulk of the public buses in Dalian are manufactured by Huanghai 黄海 and FAW 一汽 as the assembly plants are also located in Liaoning province. BA4118 is a Huanghai DD6128S28 which was spotted laying over at Hutan Residential Estate 虎滩新区 bus terminal.
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B08398 is a front engined FAW CA6105SQ1, and was seen working service 403 near the Russian Cultural Street.
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BA6258, a Yaxing 亚星 operated by Dalian Public Transport 大连公交集团, was photographed running the TESCO free shuttle bus service from Hutan Residential Estate.
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B95995 is a Huanghai DD6121HS front engined bus and was photographed on service 4 along Jiefang Road 解放路 on a fog shrouded morning.
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BB5331 is a converted Sunlong 申龙 bus which functions as mobile studio for a company specialising wedding photography.
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AC8387 is a license built Shenwo 申沃 Volvo 沃尔沃 B10M MkIV operating as an express bus plying between Shenyang North and Dalian bus station.
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Kinghall Hotel 金海酒店

Kinghall Hotel is a new development which is located along Jiefang Road in the southern suburbs of the city. The hotel had been built to 5 stars specifications and primarily relies on tour groups and conference participants due to its obscure location.
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