Beer, BBQ and Beautiful Qingdao

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May 31st 2009
Published: September 16th 2009
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MMMM I like being a life saverMMMM I like being a life saverMMMM I like being a life saver

Nobody notices the dead man on the beach.
It's 11pm and I have just arrived at the Qingdao Train Station. That's pronounced chingdow. All is good as far as the train trip went. I slept most of the way in the first class carriage with only about 6 people in it. But, as is my luck, I get someone behind me who likes to kick the back of my chair. And I can't move to another seat as the porters like you to stay where your ticket says to.

So I escape the station with all the other holiday makers and look for the taxis. I find one easily and show him the prepared Chinese translation of my hostel and the address. He takes a look and says 'No'. I say What?! He says, 'It's too near. Not enough money.' I couldn't believe it. It's late at night and I have to find a taxi that will take me 2kms. I walk to the nearest road intersection to find where I am on the map. More taxis pass me and one pulls over. I show him the address (this time I made it into the cab) but he says 'No' also. Well, I got out of the cab but didn't close the door. Oooooh he didn't like that. Serves him right.

Finally I found a cab with a nice driver who took me to the Kaiyue Hostel but on the way I noticed taxi driver number 1 still sitting outside the train station. I think some of them are stupid or just tainted by the amount of money they earned from the Olympics. A small fare is better than no fare at all, right? Maybe he was waiting for me to offer more money ...

Note: This town was the venue for the Olympic Sailing events last year.

Easy check in and straight to bed for me. It's been a long day of teaching then 3.5 hours train to the seaside.

I'm up early and have a wonderful breakfast at the Old Church Cafe/Bar which is part of the hostel. A real cappucino with real coffee and real milk frothed up just the way I like it. Today is a day of walking to check out the area. I'm in the 'German' area of town. And cruise around wondering whether I was 'beamed' into another country. The architecture is a mix of European and Chinese. I'm amazed that a culture with more than 3000 years history was influenced so much by 50 years of German (I suppose no choice at that time). The Churches and the buildings down the main streets are European style but the side streets are still decidedly chinese. I'm happy about that.

I walk to the pier (with 1000's of other holidayers) then around the path to the west. Look, there's a McDonalds AND a KFC. I MUST be in the tourist area. There is a coastal walkway that runs from the West to the very east (Stone Old Man). The length of this walkway and boardwalks add up to about 40km. I thought to go to the end, by bus, have a look around and then check out the Olympic Sailing area before heading back to the hostel. I walked miles today.

The tourist map has more than sightseeing information. It shows on the map the number of the buses you can catch and the route it takes. I caught the No. 301 Bus to the Stone Old Man resort area. Not much to see and I met a man from Belize who was visiting friends. He was going to the Olympic area to have lunch. He taught english in Qingdao for about 3 years before he went to the States to live. From the Olympic arena I walked along the path heading west. The gardens and walkways have all been kept clean since the Olympics and it was a nice stroll.

One thing that is popular with Brides and Grooms is to have a photo shoot on the rocks near the water's edge. It's Sunday and all the 'happy' couples are standing around in groups, walking around the rocks etc. The brides although beautiful are very practical. They wore stunning gowns, had their hair coiffed high up and a professional plasterer has trowelled their faces but under their sweet white gowns are 3/4 leggings or jeans with sneakers. Who would have thought? see pics.

There is much to see and Qingdao's No. 1 beach is beautiful and clean, quite large, with many people on it. But do you think that they would actually go swimming on these hot 30C days? No, at best they are up to their knees. No waves in the Yellow Sea. It's like a massive lake and the horizon is hidden by salt air and smog. (You can just see the outline of a cargo ship heading south. Qingdao is a major port.) They are extremely afraid of sharks and a shark net is set up to the side of the beach. But again only 8 people did I count doing some kind of swimming stroke. (non Olympic standard).

I sat with the locals and ate a grub and drank beer. I indulged in the sidewalk fresh seafood cooked on the spot and washed down with a Tsingtao beer of course (Qingdao - same same but different spelling). I had my photo taken with groups. I laughed and played with the kiddies on the beach. I walked for miles. I didn't set foot inside a shopping mall or local store and there are many. I visited the zoo (not good). Only good thing were the cheetah cubs. I walked through a huge sidewalk market from the train station to the hostel. I found my way around easily and felt very comfortable for my first solo travel experience.

I will come back here again. I will stay at the same hostel. And enjoy the fresh seafood, beer and warm welcome from the locals. I will also enjoy next time around the famous BBQ (everything on a stick) that is known in this seaside town and a visit to the brewery as well as a hike around Laoshan. There's another 2-3 days. It is easy to lose time in this lovely town. No wonder it is one of the local favourites as a holiday destination.

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19th November 2012
What is the collective noun for a group of brides and grooms?

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