Oh I Do like to be Beside the Seaside

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November 11th 2012
Published: November 11th 2012
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This Friday we headed off from Jinan to QingDao.

We had booked tickets through a train ticket agency for Friday morning leaving at 8-45am from Jinan East station on a D train.

We had real trouble flagging a taxi down, it took about 10 minutes and we were going to be cutting it fine. We pulled into the car park of the station and I reminded Martin to get his passport out, which is when he realised he had left it in the apartment.

You can’t get on a train without an ID card or passport nor can a foreigner stay at a hotel or hostel without one.

So much to the bemusement of the taxi driver and initially wondering what the hell we were doing we asked him to take us back to the apartment. Peak hour traffic, meant that no way would be make the train so we resigned ourselves to having to buy more tickets.

We made our way into the university grounds, Martin got his passport and off we went again to the train station, same taxi.

The ticket agency at Jinan East is an
Hothouses as far as you can seeHothouses as far as you can seeHothouses as far as you can see

Vegetable growing in mass for kilometres after kilometre
oasis of calm compared to the Jinan main with only 2 windows and 3 people in line at each one. I handed him our old tickets and asked for tickets to Qingdao. And to our complete surprise he completely exchanged the tickets for the seats and train we had missed for another train later on!!!!!

QingDao is a seaside town in the Shandong province in the bay on the Yellow Sea overlooking Japan and Korea. It is a major tourist destination for Chinese people with swimming beaches and a beautiful 44 kilometre walk along the beach and cliffs as well as home to TsingDao beer. It hosted the sailing part of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was home to Germans and Danish royalty and elite in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s.

They built mansions and churches in the European style with many still existing today and used for various purposes.

The Germans also set up the brewery in 1902 in the style of German beer, and it has successfully thrived since with it now being exported throughout the world.

We had booked a Motel through the travel blog site for Y150
St Michael's Catholic churchSt Michael's Catholic churchSt Michael's Catholic church

In Qingdao built by the Germans in 1920's
right in the old part of the city called Motel168 which is a chain of hotels; the one we had booked was closest to the railway station and 3 stars.

Clean, tidy, but with staff that spoke less English than my word limit in Mandarin, and showing great reluctance to help us or even bother using any English despite clearly showing us they understood at times. They seemed to be obsessed with our passports requiring a photocopy each time we entered the building, at check in, at check out, for our bag check out. But it was great as it was 4 blocks from the sea and pier and right near all the major things to see and do.

We had a quick look at the former St Michael’s church on top of the hill which was proving a major photo stop for wedding parties that afternoon, had lunch at one of those chain noodle places and then grabbed a taxi for Beer Street. (onlyY12)

St Michael’s Catholic church was built in the 1920’s by the Germans in the style of a Gothic cathedral, streets leading up to it are cobbled just like European streets its quite bizarre and quaint.

Beer Street is home to the Tsing Dao brewery and museum. This is the real current and past brewery with well laid our signs, maps, audio guide if you wish, English signs and 2 free glasses of beer, one midway with a little packet of spicy peanuts and 1 at the end.

The beer midway was a raw beer, which is slightly cloudy malty and frothy.

The end beer was the usual light crispy lager.

Y50 entrance but well worth it for viewing the brewery and the brewing process as well as celebrating China’s achievements in this area.

Taxi back to the motel and we headed off to find the beaches and walk and ended up in the port area instead but we had a great look at the wholesale fish market at the end of its trading day. We realised we had blundered in our search and headed back to the motel area and found seafood Nirvana.

Right in the centre of the city is a little maze of alleyways off TianJing Lu.

Enter the cobbled street with the banners and then turn into the lit alleyway with 1902 above it, then you will see the street vendors all shouting out to sell their wares and tiny restaurants, with basins of live seafood to view and choose from, a huge seafood food hall and just a wonderful surprise.

We ate a fish-ball stick and wandered here and there, finally choosing a little place for prawns, rice and cabbage and beer with another couple of fish-ball sticks to finish off the evening. What a find and if we had not lost our way we would never have found it at all.

Back to the map at the motel and only 4 blocks from our motel we found the seaside, the walk, the pier and had a lovely evening watching the fishermen cast netting, fishing, politely ignoring the sales pitches of the shell jewellery people and enjoying the fresh sea air sounds, smells and sights.

Light drizzly rain for the second day and breakfast at the motel to start our day.

Y15 each for a Chinese breakfast buffet all you can eat. So there was a couple of rice congees (porridge), boiled eggs, fried rice, fried noodles, pork buns, red bean buns, steamed bread rolls, cold pickled veges, corn cobs which are tough as old boots, little steamed root vege potato things, fresh fruit, toast and little pastries.

We took a taxi and off to the Navy museum for Martin and possibly the aquarium and underwater world for me. This is just around the point and close by but only Y10-

The navy museum entrance fee is Y40 and Martin had a brilliant morning looking at the Russian and Chinese boats, submarines, planes, tanks, guns as well as an indoor museum with lots of history about various battles and the formation of the navy from the early days to now.

I walked around the sea walk which is just like the walk around Manly and the Sydney harbour walk. Neat manicured paths, gardens, pine forests which smelt wonderful, crashing waves on rocks and the rain steadily becoming worse. I got to QingDao No 1 beach where I watched quite a few brave swimmers in the 8 degrees of cold weather and rain some even enjoying a game of beach volleyball in their togs after their swim.

Walking back I wandered along a side road and found a little museum which was the former home of Kang YouWei a famous Chinese man who lead the reform movement of 1898 and led the push towards a modern China. He travelled the world in the 1920’s onwards to learn and bring back to China the best ideas. His home was built in the late 1880’s by one of the German elite, in the style of European homes, lots of wood and earthy tones.

The aquarium entrance fee was Y90 and was spread around a huge area inside and out and with rain now steadily coming down I decided against this and just wandered back and grabbed a hot drink and sat in a pergola in a park with a stray cat for company.

A young man came and sat in the pergola and just looked ecstatically happy. He carefully took out his lunchbox from his backpack and ate and smiled at me. He wandered off to look at the sea and stood on the rocks arms outstretched and just drank in the view. Then he came back and asked if I spoke Chinese and began a halting conversation in English. He was a uni student on a weekend away, visiting the sea for the first time ever in his life and I was the first westerner he had ever spoken to. He wanted to come and study in Australia as he had heard that we are a diverse country and tolerant of other cultures. He tried so hard with his English, totally learnt at school.

Lunch today was fit for a king and quite dear for China at Y273- Little place overlooking the sea, we chose the fish which was slammed on the pavement and stunned and then taken away and cooked. 12 scallops also taken from another basin. I managed to ask for vegetables in Mandarin but without a phrasebook could not ask for what sort, but undeterred the man came out with an arm full of raw fresh veges so we chose eggplant and cabbage. My Mandarin extends to ordering beer, the fish arrived quickly, and it was steamed with ginger and shallots and then sat in a light soy broth, cabbage lightly cooked in a little oil and stock, and then the eggplant dish. I wish I knew how to cook it like that; it was crunchy yet in a thick sauce with garlic, sooooo nice.

Sitting and watching the waves crashing on the rocks, eating food so fresh, life is good.

We had a little walk in the park and dipped our hands in the water, taxi back to the motel to grab our bags and off to the train station to head back to Jinan.

Coffee with a Western Australian who is a mechanical engineer working in China for the past 2 years before our train, fluent English language conversation with a Chinese man on the train who lived in Melbourne for a while about all things from politics to armed services and his borrowed English language newspaper, China Daily. This completed our weekend away.

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