Hiding in Lushun – Lushun, Liaoning Province, China

Hiding in Lushun

Lushun, Liaoning Province, China

After a few months, my stay in China was winding to a close. I wanted to do something interesting before I left DaLian, China for good. Borrowing a friend’s (out of date) travel book, I discovered that the city of Lushun, located about 3.5 hours by bus from DaLian, was where Japan invaded China during the Second World War. As an old war buff, I thought, “Perfect!” What a great way to end my stay in China.

I recruited a Chinese friend, and hopped on a bus to Lushun. As we neared the city, my friend received a phone call from another Chinese friend who asked where we were going. “Lushun.” We answered… Immediately our friend, Rock, was insistent. “No! Foreigners can’t go there! You have to come back!”

Stubborn as ever, I scoffed off Rock’s warnings and made no move to turn back. A while later, my friend went up to talk to the bus driver. In increasingly elevated voices, the two conversed back and forth. As I watched the driver’s erratic hand motions, unease started to set in. Looking concerned, my friend returned and told me, “the driver says foreigners aren’t allowed in Lushun.”

At this point, we were already in the town, where my friend pointed out mountains to me which he claimed are hollowed out and housing major weapons and command centres. The driver instructed us to go “hide” by an old dried up river bed, and he would come back to pick us up when his route was done.

We hopped off the bus and went down by the riverbed, where I put up my hood and hunkered away from the biting December wind. As other people walked by, I would turn my head away and catch a glimpse of my anxious-looking Chinese friend. We waited by the river for about 30 minutes, while National Army transport trucks roared by. Finally, the bus returned, coming to a screeching halt and madly honking its horn, we ran across the road like covert commandos and hopped on, and began our return to DaLian.

I realized later that while parts of Lushun are open to tourists, the city is often referred to as “Dalian’s Forbidden City,” (more commonly known as Port Arthur) as it is largely off-limits to tourists. It is of great strategic import in defending the Bohai Sea, and has a tragic past. As it is so easy to get into and out of Lushun, it is questionable what would have happened had we been caught… perhaps arrest, or a slap on the wrist? But at least I had an interesting story to take back home with me….

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