Traveling to Qingdao,
German heritage leftover in China
Qingdao, Shandong, is a former German concession city in Eastern China. It’s also one of the most renowned coastal cities in China, where people like to spend their vacation time. Some villas and street along the shore, are still dotted with beautiful German style villas. But that’s not the only thing the Germans left here, Qingdao is also the hometown of the most famous beer in China, the Tsing Tao beer.
After being released from our police arrest in Xining, we are running out of visa time, and money also. So we take a long distance train from Xining to Qingdao, from where we’ll hop on a ferry to South Korea.
34 hours hard sit journey, Xining to Qingdao by train
The train leaves on time, at 11 p.m. Nobody in the seat next to us, we try to sleep huddled as long as possible before the train gets crowded. At 6 a.m. we have to put seated, the train is packed now, but we had been lucky enough.
The journey is long and tiring, we eat the noodles and look out the window, we read a little and stare at the preposterous junk the train crew is trying to sell to passengers. At one point, a monk gets in, with a giant backpack, sits and begins to make bracelets with rubber threads. Do you remember them? They were fashionable a decade ago.
The Chinese ladies on the train rave, they see it as a wonderful thing, surrounding the monk that seems to be happy. It’s also quite talkative apparently because he talks non-stop for an hour spun.
find our bicycles
At 5 a.m., we finally arrive in Qingdao, we go looking for the bikes that we shipped one day before our departure, but we are told that the office opens at 10 am even though all employees are there! So 5 hours more waiting, not bad after 34 hours train.
Then at 9:30 they let us in, we show them the receipt for collection and they tell us that our bikes are not yet there, that those didn’t yet leave Xining! We are not convinced, so we struggle in the hard attempt of communication and at the end (one hour later) they realize that bikes are in the city but in another store, we do not understand why but asking questions is unnecessary.
A guy with a van takes us to recover our beloved steeds in a warehouse far away from the station, in the industrial port. Retrieved the all our five wheels, we go to the house of the girl who will host us, Jana, a Serbian girl who teaches English at a private school here in town. She’s at work but had left the house keys under the doormat, fortunately, we really needed a shower and some sleep!
Finding the house anyway is not easy, all these huge apartment blocks that look all the same, it takes us another couple of hours, we are exhausted.
The next day we go to the port, we book the ferry for July 10th, we’ll go to Incheon, South Korea, 17 hours, 900 yuan each.We pass these five days walking around the city, talking a lot with Jana, finally cooking something more elaborate than instant noodles. Jana’s window, who lives on the twentieth floor, the fog of pollution is bloody thick.
One morning we do not even see the opposite building and we do not feel too well. It’s an overwhelming feeling.
There’s an app for phones that says every day the pollution rate of the city, a bit like the weather report. The figures are terrible but in truth probably even worse since the app is controlled by the government. But if everyone in the world wants cheap stuff somebody must produce it somewhere.
The next day the sky’s a bit better, not blue for more than half an hour, but you can tell where the horizon begins. The waterfront of the city is cute and nice, this also had to be a beautiful city once. From 1897 to 1919 he was colony of the German Empire and there are in fact several buildings and churches in european style.
And then the famous beer (Tsing Tao, which is pronounced Qingdao), the most drank in China and in all the Chinese restaurants in the world. We also visit the nice narrow streets of the city center market, when for the first time we see insects sold as food, although this stand looks more the kind of a tourist attraction, the local Chinese are horrified like us.
Pea-green algae cover the sea. Maybe they are not natural seaweed, some say. Jana says are not so many this time, could be much worse. The fact is that they are creepy and I won’t bath, Daniele does and survives, apparently without any visible genetic mutation.
We also made a nice bike ride along the coast, about twenty kilometers to finally get out of town.
Arrived at the beach we see that they all bath dressed and with huge lifesaver and that the beach is full of spouses who do picture posing.
Behind the beach there’s also an incredible place for souvenir photos of the wedding: fake church, fake Dutch windmill, fake gondola, fake animals in a fake zoo and even a mock boat.
So you can have a fake wedding album to show to your (fake?) grandchildren! Fantastic! Fake these 5 days relaxing city we go to take our ferry to Korea although we would still be in the mountains of Qinghai with nomads and shepherds and yak.