Qingdao

My day in Qingdao was very lazy, just as I’d planned it to be.
I had breakfast at the hostel then went for a walk. Qingdao used to be a German concession, and the architecture of the old city still shows this. The older buildings look very Germanic and the streets are consistently built to a human scale.

First I headed to the Laoshe Park, and wandered down the hill to the sea. In the park there was an old man writing traditional Chinese calligraphy on the empty base of a fountain. He had a big stick and a pot of black paint. He took time with each character, looking like he was putting a lot of thought into what character to write and exactly how to write it to express the correct message.

At the base of the park I came to the sea. The sea front was heaving with people, and there was very little beach, just a few rocks sticking out above the water line. I took a random decision and decided to turn left, heading north east along the shore, with the sea to my right. Along the sea front I walked, a lot of the time unable to see the sea due to the rampant commercialism along the shore. I went up a hill and found Luxun Park, so went in to relax and watch the world go by. The park is high on a rocky outcrop with good views of the rest of the shoreline. I sat on a rock with the sea lapping the rocks far below. The scent of the pine trees gave the setting a very Mediterranean feeling. As ever in China, sitting down for that long, I became an attraction myself, with people taking photos surreptitiously.

Tired of the attention, I left the park to go to Xiao Qingdao, a scenic island with a causeway leading to it. By the start of the causeway was a Naval Museum, with four decommissioned war ships and a submarine. Scattered seemingly randomly on the shore was a weird collection of helicopters, missiles, gun turrets and other military paraphernalia. On the island I found a tourist-tat shop, so bought little gifts for everyone back in the office. Further around the island I found a coffee shop, so stopped for about an hour while I drank a coffee and got my Kindle out to read another chapter of the book I’m reading.

Leaving the island, I wandered back to the old city centre, with the goal of finding the train station to see how much of the original German station has been retained and repurposed in the modern station. Expecting the station to be like a Chinese St Pancras, I didn’t have the opportunity to see it – the station was across five lanes of busy road, with no obvious way across. I tried to go around, but found myself half way back to the hostel in the process. The Chinese town planners “won” that one, and I headed back to the hostel to do some more relaxing and writing.

As I ordered dinner in the hostel lounge, the waitress accused me of coming to China and spending all my time on my computer. I countered by saying that I’ve lived in China for the past seven months, that I’m on holiday now so I’ll do what I want and that isn’t necessarily experiencing more of China, and (quarter truth) I’m a writer so have been doing lots of writing, not just surfing the internet. She seemed very impressed at my claim to be a writer and let me off the hook.

After publishing a few blog posts and receiving the same cold shoulders from other self-absorbed backpackers as I had on the previous nights, I headed to bed.

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