Yesterday, Dave and I set out for Dalian… which turned into Weihai when we found that the ferry times had changed. I wanted to see Weihai to find out what I gave up for my new school. Just kidding, guys! Weihai is a short ferry ride from Liu Gong Island, which is famous (at least in the Lonely Planet) for a scenic hike, a mountainside cablecar, an old church, older temples and the site of a Chinese defeat by the Japanese in the 1890’s. Being the educated and culturally sensitive travellers that we are, we thought it would be interesting to see the monument to a defeat and if the cablecar wasn’t that great, we’d find a beachside bar.
We took a ferry from the quay at Weihai to Liu Gong Island. I have to admit that I love boats and half the reason I wanted to go to Dalian was to take the ferry from Yantai. On the island, though, we were underwhelmed with the tour groups in their matching hats, with the entrance fee for the park, and with the local cuisine. (In Penglai, we resolved never to eat in restaurants that have dirty plastic tubs of apathetic eels on the floors) We found and avoided a small Chinese zoo. I don’t know how anyone can enjoy visiting a collection of skinny, sickly animals resting in the shadiest part of their small cages. Most zoos have feral cats that steal the animals food and hiss at visitors.
At the top SOMEONE had the great idea of walking though the forest. And someone else agreed with him. If you’re confused by my refusal to name names, I’ll remind you that the people on this trip are Dave and Meg.
I enjoyed the walk. It was as clean and as unpopulated as a place can be in China. There were lovely flowers, and all kinds of plants I couldn’t recognize. As the forest turned into real Heart of Darkness jungle, I decided to tell Dave the truth.
“Um, Dave?” I said, “My boyfriend’s affectionate name for me is No Sense Of Direction Girl. I might have forgotten to mention that.”
Dave did NOT push me off the path into the scenic gorge, which was quite nice of him. We continued for a while, dive-bombed by dragonflies and bitten by jungle insects, playing the game ex-pats use to torture themselves called What would you eat if you could have anything you wanted for one meal? Then we realized that we hadn’t heard voices for a long time, and that we had a limited amount of time to get the last ferry back to Weihai.
We established that a Friendly’s franchise would make good money in Yantai, and I was secretly wondering if I’d end up sleeping in this house. And then, through the trees, we saw a gray fortress. I thought we must be near the quay, or at the very least, we were near people who could tell us how to get to the ferry.
Apparently, there’s a Chinese naval base on this island.
A man came out and yelled at us to go away. I enjoyed the novelty of being greeted with something besides “Hello!” (followed by errupting into giggles) or “Laowai!” but I was a bit annoyed that he wouldn’t tell us where to do. Then again, walking into a naval base and repeating “Where boat?” in bad Chinese is probably not too bright.
We walked around to the other side of the base, but a man ran out to shut the gates and tell us to go away. Did I mention it was hot? David led me on a “shortcut” through a field, which was probably one of the most gorgeous places I’ve seen in China.
His shortcut led to civilization… the naval barracks. Groups of men would comes running out in formation, and see me and fall out of step into a crowd of gawkers.
At last we found a hut that had been abandoned for years. Well, that’s what it looked like, but actually, it was a shop, although I’m not sure what they were selling besides flies. The shopkeeper was asleep on the floor inside, but she woke up and tried to sell us things.
She shows David 2 bottles of ice water for 10 yuan ($1.20). Now, remember that we’ve been lost in the jungle! For hours! In July! And that we still don’t know if we’ll make the last ferry!
So he did the only sensible thing to do. He talked her down to 6 kwai.