Dalian was a beautiful seaside port on the southern tip of Liaoning province (part of the three northeast provinces referred to as Dongbei and formerly Manchuria). Recently ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai was mayor of the city before departing to Chongqing and is widely popular there today, especially in comparison to the current mayor who is deeply unpopular, and blamed for the rise of air and water pollution. My final day was quite lovely, as a student from Qingdao (another beautiful coastal city) and his girlfriend from Inner Mongolia toured me along the hillside overlooking the deep blue and green ocean below, which was still quite clear. We also went to the sea world amusement area and watched performing dolphins, sea lions, and walruses. Funny how animals respond to different languages, I’m so used to these tricks always being performed with English prompts. The sky was blue, the air was clean, and the weather was temperate, so I really liked the place.
DalianMaritimeUniversity is a leading school for navigation and ocean law, and I was grilled over the South China Sea Dispute and the maps I was using. Getting skewered at my lecture on some question is not unusual, from Tibet to Tiananmen (usually not addressed) to terrorism and the like, but the faculty here was very meticulous about the naming of the sea, as they differentiated the South China Sea (a larger body of water) from the South Sea of China (the smaller body, though implicitly without question part of China; for most, this body of water is the same geography as the South China Sea, which the professor said should include most of the nations of Southeast Asia within it).
My host was a former graduate student at the University of Iowa, who really enjoyed her time there, so that was a nice chance to talk about home.