Simple delights by the sea

Simple delights by the sea
PHOTO: China Daily/ANN

Because Lyushun is actually a district of Dalian, the major gateway to Northeast China, it is easy to arrange a weekend trip to the area from not only Beijing, but also major cities along the coast of the Bohai Sea, by air, train or even passenger liners. Surrounded by the Bohai Sea on three sides, Lyushun's geographical importance has historically led the area to be dogged by misfortune.

In 1894, during the War of Jiawu, also known as the first Sino-Japanese War, between Aug 1, 1894 and April 17, 1895, the Japanese army captured Lyushun and massacred many of its people. Lyushun suffered again in 1904 when it became a major battlefield during the Russo-Japanese War (Feb 8, 1904-Sept 5, 1905). It then endured Japanese rule for more than 40 years until 1945.

The only benefit from these difficult years are a number of historical sites, many of which feature Japanese and Russian-style buildings, that can be seen in the seaside resort also known as Port Arthur. They have become major tourist attractions of Lyushun.

The Russo-Japanese War Site on Jiguan Hill (or East Crest Hill) was a battlefield during the Russo-Japanese War. It was there that the Russian army established a strong fortress´╝ŹNorth Bastion, after Lyushun became a territory leased to Russia in 1898.

The bastion covers an area of nearly 10,000 square meters and is 496 meters in circumference. Winding entrenchments, back channels, bunkers, ammunitions, barracks and a command post remain at the site. Replicas of Russian cannons can be seen in the woods. A museum was built in 1997 to display historical materials of the war, but it is not interesting enough for a closer look.

Originally built in 1917, the Lyushun Museum is housed in an elegant European style building and spread across 25,000 square meters. Over 60,000 exhibits are displayed in 20 sections, including Japanese paintings, ancient ceramics, bronze wares and relics from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. One of the best museums in Northeast China, it is worth a half-day visit. The museum grounds are also famous for their flowering cherry trees in the early spring.

With a 66.8-meter-tall tower, the 130-meter-high Baiyu (White Jade) Hill is the major lookout point in the town. The tower, built between 1907-1910 by the Japanese to commemorate 22,723 Japanese soldiers who died in the Russo-Japanese War, has become evidence of Japanese's war crimes in the area.

On top of the hill, visitors can get a bird's eye view of Lyushun Harbor. A large part of the harbour belongs to the Chinese navy. It is a great vantage point to watch navy ships and boats anchored on or cruising in and out of the harbour. If you are lucky, you might see a submarine surface.

On the outskirts of the town, Laotie Hill is the real tipping point of the Liaoning Peninsula and offers lucky visitors a view of the dividing line between the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea. The water of the Bohai Sea looks more or less yellow and muddy. Water of the Yellow Sea is more clear and blue.

On an extremely clear and bright day, one might see a belt on the water stretching south in the boundary of the seas. On most days, however, you cannot locate the dividing line because the water is not very different in colour.

The views are beautiful, with fishing boats bustling in and out of a small fishing village at the foot of the hill and seagulls soaring up and down the rocky coastline. Make sure you stay until the sunset.

After enjoying the sunset, you can walk one kilometer from the hill to the entrance of the fishing village, where you can grab a meal of seafood at the restaurant, Old Captain.

Mixed fish braised in soy sauce, steamed sea urchins and jellyfish salad are some of the specialties of the restaurant. Don't order too much, because the serving size of the dishes will certainly surpass your expectation.

How to get there

There are many flights and trains between Dalian and major Chinese cities. It takes about one and a half hours drive from the airport to Lyushun and about 40 minutes from the Dalian train station to Lyushun. From Qingdao and Yantai in Shandong province and Tianjin, there are regular passenger liners to both Dalian and Lyushun. The Laotie Hill is 20 kilometers south of the town of Lyushun and the admission is 20 yuan (S$4.30) per person. If you cannot find Old Captain Restaurant at the Chenjia village, call 0411-86218612.

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