After work we went off to a Dalian Development Area hot spot called 5 Color City. It is an exceedingly weird place, done up in strange mosaics, odd building shapes, bizarre giant menacing cartoon characters and seedy bars. I’m not sure what it was originally intended for, perhaps a whimsical shopping and dining district, but like so many imitations in the world this one just comes up short of the mark. Well, actually it’s far, far off whatever mark it was supposed to hit.

We started having beers on the sidewalk out in front of a nice little place called Cafe Vienna. Apparently staked by a German for his local girlfriend. They had German beer on tap and sort of a Bauhaus atmosphere. Once again I was taken by the Mafioso feel of the expat community – we all sit with our backs to the wall while more and more people pile out of their chauffeured cars and join the party. Instead of black Cadillacs, it’s black Jettas and mini-vans. Sort of an Asian Little Italy for geeky tech guys packing no heat.

I wandered around a bit and took the photos below to give you a brief introduction. As in early evening in town, the bar and parlor workers were out in the street playing cards and having an early dinner. The general vibe was a bit menacing between the towering plastic praying mantis and the skinny young toughs hanging out in bar doorways without their shirts on.

As we sat there it was obvious we were becoming an attraction judging from the people walking by and staring so we headed off to dinner at a place called Flux, a tiny little modern cafe with an interesting menu. I went for Thai curry chicken, a couple of others had ham cordon bleu and two had “raviolis with several different fillings.” Most remarkable was the fact that all the dinners arrived on time, a true oddity here.

After dark, the place was even stranger, row after row of bars with few patrons and one outdoor beer garden centered around a giant naked mermaid wrapped in colored light ropes. That place reminded me a lot of the outdoor taquerias in Mexico with one couple sitting and eating on an otherwise abandoned patio. A couple of bar girls had a rousing game of badminton in the street, illuminated by the overhanging lights. Loud music poured out of the Kiss Bar to whomever might be wandering by.

The day was wearing on so we headed back to Dalian in our van, switching positions to share the benefit of the exhaust leak that fills the back of the bus. Our driver took advantage of the lack of traffic, most of it backed up behind yet another Jetta that had gone nose first into the center guardrail and so we set a record for the time back to the hotel.