Dalian – An Inimitable Zoo
I am not an ardent admirer of zoos, and I haven’t been to many. But wherever I had been, namely, Wien, St Louis, Chandigarh Delhi, Mysore, Calcutta, they sparked my soul. Yet I cannot but relate myself to the incomparable Dalian Zoo, when my mind was dazed by the behavior of people and the animals in it. Never did I imagine that there was such a lot of resident love for the animals in the otherwise branded aggressive Chinese. I felt I was part of them all. And you must admire me for not failing to notice younger people mixing and talking to animals not just to the favorite Pandas and Monkeys but Lions and Bears. Hats off to the people, animals and above all the government for creating such a fantastic facility in the city.
My trip to the zoo was, to put it with a pun, an accidental one. Sun Yu Jiao, was the name of the girl who met me on the galaxy of bus stops in the downtown. She knew not even a word of English and I didn’t know a word of Chinese from Adams. Looking at my expressions like an imbecile running from one bus to another looking for the route number she told me, made her to laugh out loud. Believe me there were more busses on the countless adjoining stops in the downtown area than the travelers. I was admiring the buses and comparing them to the under-maintained Delhi Transport Buses with jealousy, forgetting that I was lucky to be boarding one of them, soon.
She came back to me and asked me if I needed her help for the bus exploration. And why not, how could a lonely traveler lost in the woods, refuse such a fine offer. But more surprising was she could join me for the trip to the Zoo. I doubted if she would be charging me for the service, but then I thought it could not cost more than a day time escort service. So, I decided to hire her, without knowing the damage she will inflict on my pocket. And she spent good five hours with me.
Soon, I realized she wasn’t a guide or an escort but a college girl. How did I come to know about it? Again, by accident, she took me to the far end of the zoo instead of the entry end. Some co-passengers too fell into that trap. The bus route was wrong. Neither she, nor the two-honeymooning couples had bothered to check. Any way we all embarrassingly got down and took another bus that ultimately dropped us at the entry of the zoo. At what cost, unimaginable one Yuan that equals ten rupees or six dollar cents. Traveling on public transport is really cheap in China.
Of course, I paid for the entry, that was steep. This is how the wrong entry looked like.
This is how the real entry gate looked like. It was amazingly pleasant and a lot of children around.
Some amazing aerial views inside the zoo, captivated me, and I am sure they will have the same effect on you …
Inside the zoo, where we spent four hours, she didn’t take even a glass of water that I had benignly offered her along with a cold drink. She said an absolute NO, and I was embarrassed drinking the water in my possession …
The exit and drive back was on my own, but we exchanged email addresses on the WeChat platform, remember Gmail does not work in China. This small travelogue is dedicated to her … I wonder if ever she will read it …