This weekend, a fellow teacher and I have been exploring Dalian. I've now been in a regular, above ground mall, and an underground mall/Korean market. The only thing they have in common is that you can buy things. Store of the non-department or non-Western kind are tiny, and there are a million of them. I honestly can't figure out how they all stay in business between the amount of competition and bargaining. Each floor consists of different types of items....you have your shoe/belt/bag floor, women's clothing floor, men's clothing floor...so one of these malls must contain thousands of retailers with restaurants/food carts/food courts scattered around. They make Metrotown look positively sane and small.
Because we were going to so many different places, Monica and I ended up taking the bus a lot, especially today (having bus routes in the city guidebook is amazing) and I've decided that I generally like the bus better than taxis. One of the big things is that I know ahead of time where exactly the bus is going, and don't have to communicate where I want to go. If I get lost, then I can just stay on the bus until it loops back around to where I started. I'm never quite sure if the taxi driver knows where I want to go, or if he's taking the long, more expensive route. That said, I had the greatest taxi driver on Friday night, who spoke a little big of English and was trying to teach me how to pronounce the name of where I live properly. It was pretty hilarious. The other perk of buses is that they cost 1/10th of the average not-too-far taxi. I also feel like I'm paying more attention to where I am, so areas are becoming more familiar, faster. Of course the biggest downside of the bus system is that you pretty much never know when the bus will come.
Some other highlights of this weekend include (I will get pictures in the future...I think I need a voltage adapter to charge my camera battery):
- getting lost in Ikea trying to find the exit - we went around the main showroom twice...
- ordering buffet salad at lunch, and being told that I wasn't allowed to go back for seconds
- having one fried egg served with my steak and spaghetti
- getting on a bus to come home only to find it's a double decker bus...such a great view
- going into a many-floor bookstore to get an English copy of the city guidebook
- being blinded by gilt and gold through the windows...it's a hair salon... pictures will be taken, it's indescribable
and, my personal favourite
-looking at a city map and the bus map, and knowing exactly where I was and where I needed to go!
And really, this was all possible and easy because I was with someone who can read the signs and ask for directions. I don't think I would have ventured out that far without a long list of directions for planned locations on my own.