Beer, beaches and one-pieces!

Trip Start Mar 29, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Shandong,
Friday, August 6, 2010

Qingdao, the home of China's finest beer, beaches and kebabs! What a combo! A previously German occupied town, Qingdao gives you the feeling of a European beach town, but the thousands of Chinese people walking alongside you quickly remind you where you are!

Walking down to the Zhongdian Pier from our hostel was quite interesting as the streets are lined with seafood barbecues and barrels of Tsingtao beer. With crabs on sticks not creating much of an appetite for us, we got lured into a dumplings restaurant by a loud middle-aged man who seemed pretty friendly, but this time it wasn't a happy ending as he didn't give us our change back! Putting that incident aside we enjoyed the cool sea breeze sitting at the end of the pier and letting our legs dangle over the wall at sunset.

After an early night in, we woke up in the morning and visited the Tsingtao brewery set up by the Germans in 1903. Though you can't walk around the plantation, you get a glimpse of the old methods and a view from atop of the packaging side of things. But when in Qingdao it is a must to visit, plus you get a free glass of raw beer and a packet of nuts at the end of the tour!

The Germans not only set up the brewery but also the prison in Qingdao which is now open to public. As expected it had a prison like air about it and after seeing the underwater torture chambers I was glad that it was the end of our visit. To brighten up our day, we made our way to the aquarium next hoping to go on the underwater travelator tunnel. Reaching the aquarium we felt our pockets were too small for the tunnel so we got a basic ticket instead. Not a choice I would recommend as you end up feeling sorry for the conditions the animals are kept in, especially as the aquarium is right by the shore. And that's where we went next! Beach number 1 was packed with tourists and locals and it was a sight! People of all ages with rubber rings and arm bands and women dressed up as ninjas to avoid the possibility of getting tanned is quite a norm at the Chinese beach but it was amusing for us! Feeling inadequately equipped we decided to return another day for a swim and grabbed some mangoes and a coconut to top off our afternoon.

Qingdao is known for its mist but it dare not compete with the sun. We found ourselves walking in the sweltering heat along the promenade by the shores of Qingdao in search of the perfect beach. With an entry fee of RMB2 beach number 2 was the best sandy beach we found and with our new Chinese swim suits complete with frills we dipped into the cool Yellow sea. It was the perfect evening until we found out our purse had been pick-pocketed on the bus :(

We started looking forward to leaving this town, which was odd for us, but we had one last place to visit. Xin Hao Shan park is up on a hill which was used by the Germans as a signaling point, but now offers amazing views from a revolving tower. We got there at our favourite time of day, sunset, and saw Qingdao in all its glory. It looked flawless!

Even though things didn't go well for us here, the city is not to blame. Naturally and architecturally the city is very impressive and a unique part of China. And for those who love seafood and beer it's even better!
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