Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lushun,Port city in China - a day beyond language barrier

Have you ever spent a day in a foreign land not understanding a word the people around you are speaking? Do you think language is the only way to understand other human beings? Join me for a tour to Lushun, a port City near Dalian.
Few years back, I was in Dalian, not so heard city in the tourist map of China. It is  located on the North eastern side of China next to Korea separated by yellow sea. Being a major port city ,Dalian is a financial hub.I felt it’s a bright city compared to Beijing, but not a happening city like Shanghai though.
Xinghai square in Dalian
 During one of my weekends in Dalian, I wanted to go out for a day trip and checked with my hotel concierge. Probably then I was not  a seasoned traveler, I was dependent on the information that hotel provided and booked for the day trip. I assumed I will be in a smaller group and obviously English speaking guide would accompany me.
I was taken from my hotel to a bus parked in one of the most crowded streets  of Dalian. I spoke  to  Lushun guide to inquire about the place we were going, only to know that she doesn’t understand an iota of English. Bus was full of local Chinese and Chinese speaking neighboring countries. Imagine not a soul to understand the language that I could speak.  I had to call my Chinese colleague to communicate to the guide that I had paid for the trip at hotel, when she came for collection.
I noticed a young lady greeting with a bright smile when I was looking out for  a seat in the bus which was almost full.She ushered me to a seat next to a boy of  about 10 years as if she understood my out of  place feeling. Later I understood they are a Philippine family of husband , wife and little son holidaying in China.  They were encouraging their son to speak to me in English. He was too shy to talk. I guess he was studying in an English medium school. They offered me something to eat I politely said no as it was some non veg snacks. They were affectionate towards me. Though we couldn’t communicate through language I knew we are still talking to each other through wordless converse.
Our guide started her commentary as we moved away from Dalian. Not even a word made sense to me.
The place we were heading was Lushun. As I couldn’t understand anything about the place except the name while travelling, I gathered info about this place post my visit. 
Look at the colorful  umbrellas. Umbrellas were the main attraction for me in Dalian
 When we visited Russian – Japanese prison of Lushun, it was raining. Without me asking for help, my Philippine friend gave me an umbrella to share with the boy and she managed another one with her husband. When our guide gave some instructions, she   left her son in her husbands supervision and directed me to different parts of the prison holding my hand. I was touched.
Lushun Prison museum - Picture from internet
 This prison was  used by the Russian and Japanese rulers to hold Chinese war time prisoners. They were using it as a  labor camp to get hard works from them. There are many factories telling the story of those hardship days .It is now used as a memorial exhibition centre. It is one of the historic places of Dalian.
After this prison visit, I had full confidence on her and I just had to follow her wherever we stopped. She fully assumed the responsibility to guide me.
Classic car museum Lushun - Picture from internet

We visited Dalian car museum which houses classic cars and motorbikes. There was a commentary about each of these pieces but again every bit in Chinese. 
Everything was in Chinese

Later we went on a boat cruise to nearby island and then to Baiyu mountain by cable car. Again here, she sent her husband and son in a different cable car and accompanied me in an another car. While taking cable car ride, she spoke to me in Philippines. I answered in English guessing her questions. I guess we understood each other.
Lushun city view from cable car
Baiyu mountain has a beautiful view from the top. It is also called as white jade  mountain. From here we can see beautiful coastline. They say it resembles Tiger’s tail which is the symbol of Lushun. Weather was bad on the day I was there. I could see the coast line but not at its best. Look at the images.
Lushun port view from Baiyu mountain - It was foggy when I clicked it

View during good weather - Picture from internet
 Being in a strategic location, Lushun is a natural port.Unfortunately, due to its advantages it had attracted many  invaders and had suffered under Russian and Japanese aggressors. Japan has ruled it for about 40 years. We can see Japanese and Russian cultural influence on buildings and monuments. It has a tragic story of Japanese massacring thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians after their victory.
Apparently it is written as  'Port Arthur'
It is 60 km away from Dalian. It was formerly called as ‘Port Arthur’. Lushun is a very significant city for its historical importance. Foreigners have to take permission before entering as Lushun port is under the control of military. In my case, may be that is the reason I didn’t find anyone other than non-Chinese. But I really don’t know how they got permission for me. I guess  they accommodated  me with the locals as I was the only foreigner.
Only one English word I heard from my dear little companion, when driver parked the bus for lunch at Lushun city is  ‘now dinner’!! I had cucumber and carrots which I was carrying with me and ended my lunch with chocolates. I live on chocolates whenever I find it difficult to get veg food.
After lunch we drove back to Dalian for Dalian sightseeing. I skipped it and said adieu to my Philippine friend from bottom of my heart. 
 Lushun might be a land of tragedy with a massacre memories, but for me it brings sweet memories  of a beautiful person at heart.
Now tell me do you think you need a language to know a person? 

Have you come across any such experiences, please do share.


  1. Interesting experience. Even in India you get such experience when we cant speak in same language. Especially in interiors.

    1. Yes. I had once experienced the same in interiors of Tamilnadu.

  2. China is such different country ..it has been on my must do list for a while...the Xi'an army and the Great Wall!
    This post inspires me to act a little :-)

    1. Yes it is Sonia. You reminded me Xian. :-) I will write about it . That is one of my favorite places