DALIAN, CHINA -- A city by the sea

Jeanette Kakareka

During our two week holiday from working at English National Ballet, we decided to go back to visit my boyfriend's hometown! 

We took a 10.5 hour flight, had a 4.5 hour layover in the Beijing airport, and then another hour to Dalian. We were so tired and confused and hungry! It was my first time meeting Jin's dad, so this wasn't necessarily the best state to be making first impressions in. When we met him at the Dalian airport I tried to say "it's nice to meet you" in Chinese, but I totally panicked and Jin had to explain what I'd meant to say.

One of the very first days we went to have a sauna day--my first experience! They also had a pool so we swam for a while.

I had met Jin's mom before, and she is the sweetest! She made such an effort to make me feel at home and also made me special food when I got sick one day so I could have something familiar.

I met most of his immediate family including an aunt and cousin. Jin and I also got the honour of making his dad's parents their first spaghetti dish and witness their first attempt at forks! In turn, they gave us lessons on dumpling making since the Chinese New Year was coming up.

We also drove around the city so I could see all of the good sites and brave the outside temperatures. Thanks to Jin's dad who was happy to take a day off of work to drive around in the cold for us! When we were in the city of Dalian, we made it to the aquarium where they had some very happy animals swimming around, getting fed and pet by their handlers.

We even walked down to the beach and collected some sea glass and threw skipping stones.

Jin's family certainly is lucky to live here. It's a very clean place with lots of trees and mountains and beautiful views of the sea. And actually, we did climb to the top of one of the mountains right by their house!

Saying goodbye to our holiday and to his family wasn't easy, but I can't wait to visit again!

Amazing Food That I Had In China

Jeanette Kakareka

This spring, my company (English National Ballet) went on a 4 week tour to China and Singapore. Sometimes, I forgot how far away from home I was. But usually there were all sorts of communication errors making even take away lunch a real challenge. That being said, most of the food was definitely worth any trouble it was to get.

In our first city, Tianjin, we dove right in and I experienced a few bites of some street food. (Be careful, and it’s advisable to never drink the tap water!)

We also went to a hot pot place called Hai di Lao, which is a chain in China. This is a really nice option for anyone less adventurous--if you didn't know, hot pot is where you get the raw ingredients (veggies, seafood, meat,) and add them into boiling broth at your own table.

TIP: If you order the shoo si la mian noodles, you'll get a fun little dance by one of the waiters to stretch the noodles out for you!

Our next city was Guangzhou, which is a lot further south, and very hot and humid. This was my favourite location. There, we stayed in the most amazing hotel and had daily, buffet-style breakfasts with a gorgeous view.

Photo by Jem Choi

Photo by Jem Choi

Our last week in China was spent in Beijing. With an urban population of around 19 million, it is second in size only to Shanghai. 

TIP: It's a big city, but taxis aren't expensive in China. So, if you're not clear on how to get somewhere on the tube, don't be afraid to be driven there instead.

One day, we taxied to a restaurant that is a top rated restaurant in Beijing, Yin Xiang Xian Guan. Here, we had a very interesting assortment of food that you might not expect. That included (but was not limited to,) glutinous lotus root, cold mashed potatoes with a blueberry sauce, veggie coated tofu, and yellow curry inside of a loaf of bread.

This trip only increased my love of Chinese food, and I cannot wait for my next opportunity to visit in China again.