Sunday, November 18

Dilly-dallying around Dalian

What? You're asking, what does that mean?  What's Dalian?  
Let me first say, I understand.  I didn't know where Dalian was either until about 2 days before my first trip out here (my last one) when I thought I better look it up on the map before I ventured out there for work.  That was earlier last month, and now I'm here for another stay for a few weeks, and I'll be back in January.
So Dalian is in Northern China, nervously enough not that far from North Korea and Japan.  There's a big Korean and Japanese influence here.  The food is definitely influenced by both I've seen.

I haven't really ventured out much by myself here actually, last time I came it was very crazy busy and I was mostly escorted by colleagues but today I got a chance to do a bit myself.

Let me firstly tell you, it's COLD here at the moment.  When I got up this was what I was greeted with on my phone:

Brrr.  Yes.

I thought it best before venturing out today was to a) have two cups of tea and b) get some work out of the way and go in the middle of the day so it would be as warm as possible.  Well that warm as possible turned out to be 1 degree.  Oh well.

So I got a taxi to Dashang area of town, it's where most of the shops are.

Yes, those are really ear muffs.  I bought them yesterday because I thought they might fall off and for $5 I am happy to keep my ears thank you!

Does this look cold to you?

In this country I really wish I spoke mandarin and I could read chinese characters.  It's a huge disadvantage - but generally shopkeepers will type a number into their calculators or phones to advise price, the only issue is I think I would buy more and experience more if I knew what I was buying!  Some of the food is well ermm.. you don't want to know.  I would prefer to know what I'm eating.

Some are kind of obvious:

Today I bought some almonds from a street vendor and I'm sure I got ripped off for $3 for about 200g of almonds.  I must say they are very fresh and delicious though..

So off to Dalian Center I went in search of some food for my hotel room, because I must say the room service at my hotel doesn't offer a whole lot and I'm a grazer these days more than a full meal person.

The one thing I have to say here is the breads, pastries and cakes are phenomenal.  The bread is light and buttery a bit like brioche actually.

How could you come to China and not buy some custard tarts?  I rationed myself to one.  The shop attendant checked with me twice that I just wanted one, clearly no-one can stop at one here.  And now having had one, I know why.  Pastry light and flaking, custard rich and sweet but not too sweet.  Heaven.

In the dept store market I went to you can also see them make all kinds of things, these are chinese doughnuts which can best be described as fried brioche because it tastes more like that.

You have to watch how quickly they assemble them, it's amazing!

They they place them in the hot oil..

Swizzle them around with chopsticks and they turn over..

Then they are retrieved with the chopsticks and served warm.

Just what I needed on this cold day, and great to munch on whilst you walk..

I bought some sushi for dinner tonight.. you can pick and mix:
They are 50c a piece.

Now Dalian is the seafood capital of China, it's plentiful and cheap (see below the prawns are $6 a kilo....the Nationals will generally always take some form of seafood home with them as I found out when someone's seafood leaked out of their suitcase and all over mine last time I left Dalian.. (note, get your bag shrink wrapped on the way out)

They do eat things I wouldn't dream of eating, like chilled jellyfish and.. turtles.. here's live ones for sale!  Sad!

Moving on... never seen chickens like this before, with heads on...

OK, enough grossing you out, here's some nice things.. 

Candied cherries and other fruits on sticks are everywhere.. and very reasonable at about 30 cents a stick.  

Street vendors also sell a variety of steamed buns, and I was so tempted to buy one but I just didn't know what was in it.. see?  It would be so much easier if I could read chinese characters!

On my way back home I passed an English school, it was nice to see some words that looked familiar and good on those guys for learning English!  I have a mandarin app on my iPad but really would like to do a proper course.

 Maybe this shop two doors down might want to join those guys though...

Just before hopping in my taxi back to the hotel I spied this building, the architecture is always such a surprise in China.  Looks cold right?

I did some fancy pix-elating on my phone and I got this, I love this, might even frame it!  So rather than being cold, this is cool!

Who wants to come to Dalian?

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