You call that a beach?

Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
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Trip End Aug 19, 2011


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Flag of China  , Shandong,
Sunday, July 31, 2011

Next stop on the journey through China was Qingdao. This costal city of 8 million on the Yellow Sea is famous for being a German colony and the source of Tsingtao, the ubiquitous beer in China.  Tsingtao is made from rice, not malt, and with a pitiful 3% alcohol tastes more like water than beer.  If it wasn't so dam cheap (about 30c) I would never go near it!  Anyway I arrived in Qingdao in the evening and made my way to the hostel, a pretty nice place located off the main street.  I had some food and without much direction I headed straight out for a walk.  I got a little lost in the back streets but quite liked how it felt less touristy than the past few places.  Also in spite of the 8 million inhabitants it didn’t have the overwhelming big city feeling of most other cities I had seen in China.  I headed towards the coast but instead of following the flow of people and went in the opposite direction.  There was nothing much to see but it was nice to stroll in peace and listen the gentle waves lapping against the shore.  Peace and quite is something you learn to appreciate greatly in this over populated country.  By following the coast I did eventually make it to a more crowded area to check out the pier and the night view of the city.

The city is spread along about 8km of coastline and the following morning I too the bus to its other end.  As I travelled through the high risers it became obvious that I was not staying in the center, but rather the old town, hence the small town feeling of the previous night.  I headed to Wu Si square to check out the iconic red spiral sculpture before continuing onward to have a look at the Olympic Sailing Park.  There was an entrance fee to the park which meant it was considerably quieter than the square.  I browsed around the various Olympic stuff and paused a while to watch people learning basic sailing in the bay below.  After the park I began the 8km walk back along the coast.  There were a number of beaches and parks along the way making it quite a pleasant walk.  Some of the first beaches were rough and pebbly and were void of Chinese tourists.  When I reached the first sandy one I stopped for an hour to sunbath.  The Yellow sea was washing tones of green stuff onto the shore; I wouldn’t even call it seaweed.  Guys with pitchforks and diggers were working overtime to clear the stuff but it seemed futile as it just kept coming.  The Chinese tourists were braving it for a swim but there was no way I was going to join them, especially after the disgusting dip I had in the South China Sea in Macau. I continued along the coast and checked out an old colonial manor on the way and wandering the boulevards of posh townhouses nearby.  As I neared the area I was staying the beaches did get a little bit nicer (though still quite polluted) but was absolutely packed with Chinese tourists.  On beach number one it seemed like there was hardly space to sit down and I walked through the dense crowd just for the bizarre experience.  

The following day I headed off the check out the naval museum.  Although it was way expensive I thought I just had to check out something of the Red Army (or Red Navy) while in China.  It was actually pretty cool.  They had lots of planes mostly from the 2nd world war (or the Sino-Jap) and the cold war.  A lot of the planes had a plaque of achievements beside them where things like 'shot down two American planes’ were mentioned.  There was some ground machinery including a range of missiles and launchers also.  The main attraction was a submarine and you were actually allowed to go inside which was pretty cool.  Also there were 4 ships and you could board two of them.  I even climbed into the machine guns and sat there for a minute gazing through the cross hairs wondering what it must have been like to be shooting at Japanese invaders.  On my way back I explored some of the attractions in the old German part of the city.  There was a standard Taoist temple and a few churches with a distinct European feeling to them.  
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