Dalian, China 1984-1985 1

These amazing, historic photos were recently sent to me by Ralph Lake, an old colleague and excellent Mandarin speaker, who shared an extraordinary year with me in Dalian, Manchuria, where I taught English at the Dalian Foreign Language Institute for a year from 1984-1985. It was only five years after the Cultural Revolution, Mao caps and bicycles were everywhere, the shops were almost empty, people were poor and cold but full of energy. I remember walking past a row of hovels one morning. There was mud everywhere, a pig in the yard, coal smoke coming from the chimney. A young couple emerged in smartly pressed clothes and set off with their briefcases to work. I remember thinking: these people will conquer the world. And now they are on the way to doing so. It’s simply astounding to realise that these pictures – of donkeys in the street, and old men in mao caps smoking clay pipes – were taken only a generation ago.

About sworrall

Writer with @Natgeo; author of The Poet and The Murderer; and the forthcoming Starcrossed: A Romeo And Juliet Story in Hitler's Paris (2022)

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One thought on “Dalian, China 1984-1985

  • Seumas Graham

    Hi Simon, just listened to your Ombak Putih dispatch on BBC. Inspires me to take the same boat, I love Bali.

    I’m now curious to see the photos you mention above, however they’re not showing. Where’s the link?

    I live in Shanghai and work for The Economist. If you’re ever in town would be great to meet you.