Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hong Kong Quick Posts II - Tai O Police Station Development

Public access to historic buildings is a tricky subject in Hong Kong – just about every building, old or new, office or mall, has legions of officious men in dark suits with weird hearing aid things who’s main aim is to discourage anyone from entering anywhere or daring to sit for two minutes – who knows who they’re listening to?

The former Tai O Police Station, a rather striking white building on the western side of Lantau Island, is to be converted into a boutique hotel. The building has a number of rooms and several cells capable of being used – it also has two interesting features – white watch towers, though so far the developer has said these are dangerous and off-limits (surely they should make them safe and accessible as part of their refurbishment?). Still, in general, thank God for boutique hotels – that are saving many an old building from the likes of the big hotel chains who prefer to bulldoze and build identical skyscrapers with identical rooms, identical restaurants, identical lobbys and identical room service menus!

The site is controlled by a foundation (the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation), an NGO established by developer Sino Land (start worrying here!) who are revamping the site. However, locals and preservationists fear access will be strictly limited. The Foundation has said that entry to see the interesting interior architecture will only be allowed to non-guests on official tours. One local told the South China Morning Post – ‘Please don’t turn it into a private villa for the rich. It won’t cost them much to rent the whole hotel.’ Local Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan is also arguing for greater public access to appreciate the building and points out that the developer originally declared their intention to allow the public to appreciate Hong Kong’s heritage when they got the contract. But then we’ve heard developers in Hong Kong promise public areas, preservation and greenery a thousand times before and look what Hong Kong’s got!

We await further developments

Hong Kong Quick Post I - Central Police Stations and the Magistracy

Hong Kong Quick Post III - Gaslight in Hong Kong

Friday, February 27, 2009

Three quick posts on Hong Kong – today the Central Police Station and the Magistracy

According to the Hong Kong press the complex up around Hollywood and Arbuthnot Road in Central is to be redeveloped – but apparently this doesn’t mean pulling anything down (though in Hong Kong you can never be sure – remember the ferry pier clock tower – that didn’t last long when the horribly mis-named government Harbourfront Enhancement Committee got going!).

The Central Police Station is an imposing building looming over Hollywood Road – the best time to see it is early morning before the hoards of traffic fill the streets and the legions of tourists and air-kissing jumped-up ex-pats pollute the street. The views from the adjacent Mid-Levels escalator are quite good (see photo left). Behind the Police Station is Victoria Gaol which is also impressive and some, interesting, though admittedly less impressive basic living quarters for employees of the Police and the Gaol.

The Magistracy is a particularly imposing good solid piece of British architecture, built in 1914, and with several Corinthian pillars. The courtyard formed by the apex of the Magistracy, the Goal and the Police Station is a largish space – indeed considerably sizeable for Central where the developers have managed to concrete over just about every other equivalent sized space.

So what will happen to the complex? Apparently public consultations are now underway. Given past practise in Hong Kong that has seen numerous old buildings, ferry piers, clock towers, schools and other places bulldozed for the developers we should be alarmed. While it seems unlikely that such magnificent structures would actually be bulldozed to make way for a) more offices or b) more Louis Vuitton stores seems unlikely let’s hope they don’t make a hash of the makeover as they did at the Western Market in Sheung Wan where, though the structure remains, nothing very interesting lurks inside to tempt the visitor.

Watch this space – we’ll keep an eye

Hong Kong Quick Posts 2 - Tai O Police Station Development
Hong Kong Quick Post III - Gaslight in Hong Kong

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Very Final Tram Post - The Changeling

After thinking my tram thoughts were finished after the last couple of posts about Dalian's tram system, all the other Chinese tram systems and then the return of trams to Shanghai after 30 years I thought I was done. So home I went for a rest and to watch a bit of TV. I stuck the new Angelina Jolie flick, Changeling, in the machine - a strange thing to do as I don't like her much. And what do I get - between the pouting and visions of an actress as usual trying to hard - a brilliant recreation of Los Angeles's tram system in 1928!! Left is a picture of Jolie on a tram - the tram clearly steals the scene!

Back then of course Los Angeles had a world class tram system and the largest network covering about a 1,000 miles in total (trams in LA in 1911 - left) - though they usually called them trolleycars or streetcars over there. By the 1930s the LA tram system was struggling and guess who bought it? F**king General Motors who then ripped all the tram lines, widened the streets, introduced (GM) buses and sold everyone cars as there was no longer a pleasant and efficient public transport system. In 1963 the last tram stopped. As if there weren't enough reasons to dislike GM!!

Coming Down Alert – Shanghai’s Jewish Quarter

Louisa Lim at NPR reports that the site of the old White Horse Inn is among a number of buildings inside Shanghai’s former Jewish district in Hongkou likely to be knocked down to make way for (wait for it!) a widened road. As the demolition begins much has actually been revealed (and then trashed) such as old shop signs including one for Wuerstel Tenor, a sandwich shop, which had been covered for decades. The demolition will also see the end of other fading shop fronts at the heart of what was known as ‘Little Vienna’ including those of the Cafe Atlantic and Horn’s Imbiss-stube (Horn's Snack Bar).

According to Lim, in 2005, the Chinese government declared 70 acres of the Jewish ghetto a conservation zone. The White Horse Inn (above) and buildings slated for demolition are inside that zone, but aren't designated protected buildings. Sadly professors at Shanghai’s Tongji University who fought for preservation were not told about the demolition until too late.

The full sad story of another triumph of roads over heritage here

Other Coming Down Alerts:

DalianHarbin Jie

Beijing – Jinbao Jie

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Final Word on Trams - Back in Shanghai After 30 Years

My thanks to the reader who pointed out that, after 30 years since the last one ran, trams are coming back to Shanghai - or at least a corner of Pudong. According to the Shanghai Daily:

'New trams to turn red lights green

TRAMS in Pudong's Zhangjiang area will be fitted with an auto-sensor system which will turn traffic lights green as they approach when the service is put into operation later this year. The first batch of trams has arrived in the city and the first-phase of construction will be finished in May.The electric trams will run on a single track with stops in the middle of the street. Zhang Cailuo, an official with the Zhangjiang administrative commission, said the Shanghai Public Transportation Card can be used on the service once the line is open for business.The 10-kilometer route will link Zhangjiang High-Tech Park Metro Station on Line 2 to Jinqiu Road in the Zhangjiang Semiconductor Industry Park.There will be 15 stops to service office buildings, research institutes, universities and residential areas. The service will run daily from 6am to 9pm and each tram will be able to carry 167 passengers.'

I can't find a picture of what the trams will look like - though I expect they'll be all new looking and modern in keeping with things Pudong. It would be nice if they just bought some from the firm that makes the Dalian trams and kept a nice traditional look (like the restored old tram from Swansea, Wales, above) but I doubt the high-ups of Pudong think that way. Still any tram is better than no tram and even a new sci-fi tram is better than more cars I say.

The Age Old Problem of Cheese in China

It doesn't bother me personally very much but the lack of decent cheese in China (apparently) does seem to bother other Europeans living in China. A friend who recently moved to Liaoning told me the biggest problem he had was lack of good cheese while another friend in Hong Kong considering moving to the Mainland cited cheese as a major reason he wasn't to keen to make the move. This concern over the provision of cheese seems somewhat odd to me but it does also seem to be an age old problem. This advert appeared prominently on the front cover of the Peking Post on January 10th 1910 informing cheese starved ex-pats that supplies of Gruyere, Roquefort, Savoie, Gervais, Camembert, Brie and other cheese had arrived from Europe and were available at Th. Culty and Co's store at Legation Street, Peking. Hooray!

China's Old Tram Systems - A Quick Round Up

Quite a few people emailed to say they liked the Dalian trams and shared my belief that trams are a good solution to urban congestion and transportation issues as well as being far more interesting to look at than ever growing traffic queues. So here’s a quick round (alphabetically) up of China’s once extensive tram networks – apologies to any cities I’ve missed out.

Anshan - 55 miles southwest of Shenyang on the old South Manchurian Railway line. A single tram route was opened in 1956 to provide transportation for the employees of the Anshan Steel Works. This pic is from the 1980s.

Changchun - the electric tramway system opened in 1942. By the 1950s the system was extended to serve the western industrial area of Changchun with 28 km of track and 98 cars. I think trams still run in Changchun today.

Fushun – another north eastern industrial city near Shenyang and a major coal production area. The Russians arrived in 1902 followed by the Japanese. The South Manchuria Railway Company operated 26 trams around Fushun.

Harbin – the electric tram system opened in 1927, with nine miles of track and 14 trams, eventually growing to 40 trams on eight routes. Sadly they scrapped the system in 1987.

Hong Kong - The tram system in Victoria was opened on July 30, 1904, and still runs today (and is excellent, I hop it regularly through Central to Wan Chai. cars acquired upper decks in 1912 and the first closed trams were built in 1925.

Peking – early into the tram game - a first line opened in 1899, connecting the Ma-chia-pu Railway Station outside the city walls with the South Gate. The two-mile route used four motorcars and four trailers, and closed during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 for a bit.

Shanghai - Shanghai had three tram companies. The British system, which opened in 1908, was the largest with seven routes and 216 trams; the French system, which opened in 1908, had three routes and 60 trams; the Chinese company opened in 1913, and operated 52 trams on four routes totalling 23.5 km in length.

Shenyang (Mukden) - The Japanese opened an electric tramway in 1925, and by 1937 there were 12 km of track and 21 trams. The system expanded over the years and closed in 1973.

Tianjin (Tientsin) - The tram system opened in 1906 – China’s second. By 1933 there were nine miles of track and 116 trams in service. A horse-drawn tramway connected the city with a large arsenal to the east. The last tram ran about 1972.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dalian Notes III - A Centenary of Trams

Dalian’s tram system is a delight – and it’s 100 years old this year as the first trams ran through the city in 1909. In fact Dalian feels like a modern American city as it is actually one of China’s youngest cities and of course bears the hallmarks of the various Russian and Japanese occupiers and their building sprees. The trams still run – old style and new and a journey is a very reasonable RMB1 anywhere.

A friend’s flat that I stayed in happens to overlook one of the tram sheds where the trams terminate and sleep for the night (left). In 1909, the Dalian (formerly Darien) tramway was opened, now one of just three tramway systems left in China (not including Hong Kong of course which still has trams) – all the others are in Manchuria. In total Dalian has about 15km of tram line.

The city’s ‘Modern Museum’ also contains a genuine original tram and one of the excellent – but now all gone – watchtowers that were sprinkled along the city’s tramlines to control the trams and other traffic (left). The good news is that Dalian sees a future for its trams - after scrapping plans for a subway due to cost, Dalian now plans to reconstruct the three original trolley routes and build five new light-rail routes with a total mileage of 500 km to form a radial city transport network. And they still make them too – the Dalian Tramway Works is still in operation and turning out trams for Dalian and other Chinese cities.

Cities that have trams always seem more liveable to me than cities without and the public seem to like them – Amsterdam, Croydon, Vienna, Manchester etc. Viva trams.

Dalian Notes I - China's Best Letter Boxes

Dalian Notes II – Coming Down Alert

Dalian Notes IV - The Yamato Hotel Centenary

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shanghai Russian Regiment Sports Trophy Pops Up

Thomas Crampton on his blog has come across a rather interesting sports trophy from the Shanghai Volunteers Corps' Russian Regiment (God only knows what Crampton was actually looking for when he came across this..."Russian"..."Trophy"!). The rather fine trophy includes the weird and wonderfully confused flag of the Shanghai Municipal Council. Anyway...more on his blog and how much it sold for!

Rick Stein – From Padstow Back to China

Stuck in Shanghai I haven’t been able to see it but the BBC TV show Who Do You Think You Are?, the popular series in which celebrities trace their family trees apparently found that Rick Stein, the fish chef with the restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall, had a maternal great-grandfather, Henry Parkes, the 19th century Methodist missionary. Henry was one of the first missionaries to travel into China when the doors were forcibly opened following the Opium War.

Henry Parkes was a Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society member, who, in 1862 (just after the Second Opium War), travelled to China to spread the word. Parkes and his wife Annie, spent close to two decades in Asia mostly based in Canton living among the Chinese. It was a rough posting, he was petitioning to come home when his two sons died in China of disease. Parkes was finally allowed to return to England in 1882

China to America in 1939 - More Stylish; But Not Much More Luggage

In 1939 Pan American Airways Systems launched a campaign to attract passengers from China to the USA away from the passenger liners and on to to their flying boats. No doubt the planes were a lot more stylish than todays flying buses - seats were comfy, men wore hats, the booze flowed freely (though air sickness was more common as the turnbulence was a bit rougher). But you didn't get much in the way of luggage allowance as this ad from a May 1939 edition of the South China Morning Post shows. The major selling point of the Pan Am service from Hong Kong to "Honolulu, San Francisco and Beyond..." was a whopping baggage allowance of 77 pounds (roughly 35kg) - not much more than today if you fly goat class. However, excess baggage was a steal at US$3 per 100lbs to the US (though it went by boat after you).

Americans actually did rather well out of Pan Am. If you'd flown British Imperial Airways to Rangoon in 1939 from Southampton you'd have been limited to just 44lbs (about 20kg) but then, as everyone knows, all an Englishmen needs in the tropics is a safari suit, solar topi and black tie for dinner whereas Americans clearly felt the need to carry all manner of stuff. Plus ca change.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Way We Live Now – Chinese Emperors in London

It took me ages to find it on a hooky DVD but eventually I managed to get the fairly recent BBC adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now. And it was worth the wait and then some…

Of course there’s a China angle to The Way We Live Now and I was interested to see how they’d handle it. Trollope used a relatively common devise in his novel that had been popular in European literature for some time: the genre of faux Oriental letters and characters to express views on the West was a literary fad of the day for quite some time with all manner of imaginary Chinese, as well as Indians and Persians, popping up to comment on European society. At the same time to have been to China was emerging as a sign of worldliness, knowledge and a probable fortune in the bank.

This theme was to run for a long time – Goldsmith’s The Citizen of the World (illustrated left) was a collection of essays purportedly written by a Chinese philosopher called Lien Chi Altangi – ‘a native of Honan in China’ – to his friend Fum Hoam, the President of the Ceremonial Academy at Peking, and all about the odd quirks of London and the British allowing Goldsmith to vent his spleen concerning the industrialising England he believed to be the ruination of the nation. The French theologian, poet and writer François Fénelon had imagined a discussion between Socrates and Confucius in his Dialogues des Morts (1700) written as a lesson for Louis, Duke of Burgundy, while Fénelon was the boy’s tutor at Versailles; the legal scholar and Paris magistrate by day (and fan of low comedic theatre by night) Thomas-Simon Gueulette (1683-1766) also played with this form in his Chinese Tales: or the Wonderful Adventures of the Mandarine Fum-Hoam (1725); and later, in 1757, Horace Walpole wrote his Letter of Xo-Ho, purportedly penned by a Chinese philosopher in London to his friend Lien Chi in Peking. Over a century later European writers were still at.

Henry James’s novel The Europeans (1878) featured the fastidious and snobbish Madame Munster appraising a potential guest who is known to have previously visited China and declares, ‘A man of the Chinese world! He must be very interesting.’ James never visited China himself but did note in the margins of his copy of Boswell’s Life of Johnson that, like Johnson, he would very much like to visit the Great Wall.

Trollope (below) used a similar devise in The Way We Live Now, his novel of fraudulent machinations in the railway business, first published in 20 monthly parts over 1874-75, where the book’s narrator comments on the ingratiating guests attending Auguste Melmotte’s banquet for the Emperor of China despite believing their host immoral and even criminal. Trollope, in so many ways the quintessential Victorian novelist, used the device of a banquet hosted by an international financier of questionable parentage, nationality and morality admired for his wealth but suspected for his own foreignness and the even more overt and exotic foreignness of the Chinese Emperor to comment on the vacuousness of London society. Of course no Chinese Emperor ever got invited to a London soirée or to visit England, or for that matter ever expressed a wish to experience either.

I was glad to see that the BBC had the odious Melmotte (played brilliantly by David Suchet, left) hold the banquet and interact with the Chinese Emperor and his aides and obviously try and sell them a dodgy railway deal. The poor Emperor was perplexed at the gluttony and bad table manners of the Europeans (a rather obvious allusion to their gluttony for stocks and shares in the TV show). The Emperor looks perplexed throughout.

Great TV.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Deviation Posting – Manchester: the Belly and the Guts

George Orwell called Manchester “the belly and the guts of the nation”. He’d have liked the exhibition currently running at the city’s innovative Urbis museum and gallery, a space in the city centre dedicated to exhibitions detailing city life. The exhibition is called Reality Hack: Hidden Manchester and features the photography of Andrew Brooks. The show is worthy of a Deviation Posting.

Brooks has managed to penetrate the hidden parts of Manchester – the old buildings, the forgotten spaces, the sewers (literally the “guts” of the city) – and produced some wonderful images of these places. As you’ll know from yesterday’s posting on Dalian and others on the rather forgotten or obscure parts of Chinese cities I like this approach to seeing cities.Brooks captures the places we either never get to see, though we may be merely yards from them, or those places that we glimpse but hurry past and then forget to return and explore, to find out more about.

Quite how Brooks, himself a Mancunian, manages to capture these places is somewhat beyond me technically, but they are startling. At Urbis they are blown up to large size and are all the more impressive. The photographer himself describes his work: “The crucial element to my work is atmosphere…No matter how much digital application is going on, the atmosphere and feel of a picture is always the most important thing…The large scale of my stills photography enables a viewer to enter and explore each scene in depth and to constantly find new elements and hidden layers within the jigsaw…”

Whatever he’s doing the pictures are quite stunning and should be of interest not just to photography buffs (a group I’m not a member of) but to historians, urbanists, sociologists and anyone who lives in a city with a past and occasionally wonders about it.Anyway, you can see more of Brooks’s photography by clicking here and more from the Hidden Manchester exhibit by clicking here and here. The exhibition at Urbis in Manchester runs until May this year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dalian Notes II – Coming Down Alert

Wandering around I’ve taken to using this blog to note examples of perfectly fine old buildings in China that are being demolished for vague reasons (see previous Beijing Coming Down alert). This time it’s Dalian.

Dalian’s Harbin Jie was a fine example of old housing in the European colonial style with a few Russian twists as befits the city’s history. However, about a dozen residences on Harbin Jie are slated to go under the hammers – and have already been gutted and partially demolished – to make way for a primary school. Not that I don’t want to see modern new primary schools built – but does it have to be on top of otherwise fine structures already existing?

What makes the destruction of Harbin Jie especially sad is that the old argument (heard so often in Beijing and Shanghai) that the old properties are no longer liveable or suitable for refurbishment is obviously tosh in this case. Along the street several old buildings have indeed been excellently refurbished and are very attractive and clearly make their house proud owners good homes. An examination of the other buildings indicated to me that the structures themselves were sound – walls, window frames, chimneys etc – though the interiors had suffered due to overcrowding. Still, nothing that couldn’t be sorted with a little time and investment.

And so the pictures you see here – snapshots of a ghost street that within months if not weeks will be gone forever. Among Chinese cities Harbin has an almost unique architectural heritage of Russian style colonial buildings that (when they are grand buildings) the city is keen to promote to tourists. However, as is sadly usually the case across the country when it comes to ordinary dwellings, the places where people lived as opposed to banks, hotels and government offices, they are deemed expendable.

So, as it’s Harbin, Spokojnoj Nochi Harbin Jie.

Dalian Notes I - China's Best Letter Boxes

Dalian Notes III – A Centenary of Trams

Dalian Notes IV - The Yamato Hotel Centenary

Chinese Junks Remembered

Ivon Donnelly spent most of his life from the early 1900s to the late 1930s on the rivers and seas of China between Tianjin and Hong Kong. He was employed as a shipping agent on the Yangtze for most of the time but spent the best part of his days recording and sketching the old Junks he saw. We should be grateful he did as there is no better record of the variety and types of Chinese ships whose time was coming to an end. Steam engines and diesel effectively ended the days of the China Junk though, as late as the 1970s, armadas of them could occasionally be seen clustered together around Hong Kong when a typhoon approached.

Now we can see them again in all their variety in the new reprint of Donnelly’s 1924 classic Chinese Junks and Other Native Craft from the Shanghai-based reprint publisher Earnshaw Books. In his introduction to the reprint Gareth Powell, a self-declared “Junk nut”, lays to rest the myths that Junks were somehow inferior sailing vessels – junks were easily handled by one sailor; their rigging was complex and they were superbly built and indeed have lasted better than any European ships of the Napoleonic era.

Donnelly’s book is full of his lavish illustrations – watercolours and sketches – that allow you to better appreciate the difference between a Yentai Trader and Tsungming Cotton Junk. You’ll probably never need to do this but you can appreciate that Junks came in a wide variety of sizes – his painting of a Foochow Pole Junk or a Chinchow Trader reminds us that they had high sterns, elaborate riggings and could be up to 180 feet in length.

The Junks are gone now – replaced by engined craft and the family-run barges that still crowd the inland waterways and canals of China. Junks were working boats and often appeared dirty and dishevelled to the amateur eye but as Donnelly reminds us in his beautiful little book – ‘Chinese Junks appear sorry looking craft – nevertheless the beauty is there.’

Chinese Junks and Other Native Craft, Ivon Donnelly (Earnshaw Books) – US$25 – available at good bookshops around Asia or via the web - click here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Maurice Collis – Always a Good Read

Over the weekend I reread the great Maurice Collis’s Trials in Burma from 1938 for the Burma Road project I’m just finishing off. A few months ago for another project I reread Collis’s excellent Foreign Mud, his history of the opium trade and Opium Wars. I’ve long been a fan of Collis who I don’t think is much better read these days but only knew the bare bones about his background – that he was a British official in Burma with an interest in China who was pushed out and marginalized in the 1930s for being deemed by the Foreign Office as too pro-Burmese and returned to England to become a writer, concentrating on books about Burma and China.

Well, thanks to the rather classy original Penguin copy of Trials in Burma I picked up, I now know a little more about Collis. He was born in Dublin in 1889,went to Rugby School (a dead posh private school) and to Oxford in 1907 where he got a First in history. In 1911 he joined the Indian Civil Service and went immediately to Burma (then part of the British Empire and the Raj). He stayed in Burma for 20 years in a variety of posts, including upcountry in Sagaing and Arakan, and his career peaked as District Magistrate of Rangoon (his father had been a solicitor in Dublin before him) in 1929-30 (the subject of Trials in Burma). In the book he indicates why exactly the FO decided to sideline him to the post of an Excise Commander (technically a promotion some could argue, but Collis got the message).

After retiring to England in 1934 he became a prolific writer turning out plays (The Motherly and Auspicious) as well as books:

Siamese White (1936) – bio of Samuel White of Bath who, during the reign of James II, was appointed by the King of Siam as a mandarin of that country.

Trials in Burma – Collis’s time as a magistrate in Rangoon in 1930

She Was a Queen – bio of a Burmese Queen

Lords of the Sunset – Collis’s 1937 tour of the Shan States

The Great Within – a history of early China

The Land of the Great Image – bio of a missionary in Arakan in 17th century

Raffles (1966) – bio of the founder of Singapore

Marco Polo – bio of the Venetian traveller

Foreign Mud – the opium wars

He did vary his interests (indeed a complete list of his books would be significantly longer than the one’s I’ve noted) turning out biographies of Nancy Astor, Cortés and Montezuma, Somerville and Ross and Stanley Spencer and did turn his hand to painting himself in later life. He died in 1973. When Foreign Mud was published the Daily Telegraph wrote “Collis's books give nothing but pleasure to those who enjoy elegant writing.”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dalian Notes I - China's Best Letter Boxes

There are many excellent things about Dalian - trams, architecture etc - however without doubt the city has the best letter boxes in China. They've been around for ages and are beautiful and ornate. They still bear the embossed word 'Mailbox' though the post-revolution China Post have slapped their transfer on the boxes for no reason.

This Dalian mailbox was photographed near the city's Russian Street where it looks even more fitting. In most other cities the original old style letter boxes have been removed long ago but they live on rather wonderfully in Dalian. For those of us (few left I recognise) who prefer writing and mailing a letter to typing an email and hitting 'send' these letter boxes are heartwarming making you look forward to that moment when you drop a letter in and know that's it - it's on its way and in the system to end up on a mat somewhere in a few days.

Dalian Notes II – Coming Down Alert

Dalian Notes III – A Centenary of Trams

Dalian Notes IV - The Yamato Hotel Centenary

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Port Arthur in the Snow

As I'm in Dalian (Dairen, Dalny as you prefer) I thought I might be able to squeeze in a quick trip to Lushun, the old Port Arthur. It's a nice winding drive from Dalian and a pleasant spot on the coast and still a major Chinese navy base...but as the temperatures here are sub-zero I decided it wasn't worth the frostbite. It's a spring/summer trip in all honesty.

Anyway, as it briefly snowed here in Dalian last night I thought an old shot of Port Arthur in the snow seemed appropriate for today's post. So here it is and probably taken in the early 1930s sometime though I can't be absolutely sure.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Up North in Two Countries - Dalian and Manchester

Apologies for any break in communication for a couple of days as I’m travelling in Liaoning and visiting Dalian and Lushan for a few days. I’ll post plenty on Dalian and its history architecture when I get back and sort out notes and download photos.

Strangely I find myself into the last fortnight in two cities that happen to have excellent tram system – Manchester (left - which runs as a train in the suburbs before becoming a street level tram) and Dalian (right) – and I’ve been taking advantage of both excellent systems though I prefer Dalian for no better reasons than that the trams are cuter and just RMB1 (10p) anywhere.