QingDao (II) The nice places

I survived the night OK. The bed is hard as wood as usual in China, but I like it that way. The first 2 people got up early, around 6, likely to catch some bus or train as they were taking all their belongings with them. They tried hard to make as little noise as possible. I got only annoying once the German got a phone call at 7 in the morning and had no issue with talking normal voice for some 10 – 15 minutes. As he spoke German I was even forced to understand. He is still unaware that I am German, too, but I doubt that would have made any difference. Afterwards I decided I could not sleep any longer and got up. Hence, fairly early for my habits at 07:30 or so. Has the advantage of having more time for sightseeing.

The hostel serves western-style breakfast. And the muesli, which comes with the “Swiss” breakfast was delicious despite not being real muesli, but very fruity. Accompanied by toast, butter, jam and 2 fried eggs. OK a start.

QD_20070604_090527.jpg: Only thereafter I finally managed to replicate yesterday’s article. I somehow can’t get a connection with the hostel’s WLAN and my cool mobile dial-in internet does apparently not work from inside the strong walls of this former church. So I finally sat outside on the stairs where everything worked great, but too late to catch yesterday’s schedule Update Notification batch run.

QD_20070604_094752.jpg: About GuanXiangShan Park (观象山公园) Lonely Planet writes that its beauty lies in finding it. True spoken. The park by itself is unimpressive, but the way was indeed winding through many more or less interesting small lanes up a hill. Atop that hill was this od observatory, turned into another Youth Hostel.

QD_20070604_095914.jpg: JiangSu Road (江苏路) was said to have the best-preserved German architecture. Häh??? I didn’t find any…maybe I am too German. Here is an attempt: A building with a crucifix above its entrance. I found German-style streets later…

QD_20070604_101309.jpg: I nearly missed the entrance to XinHaoShan Park (信号山公园) due to the many tour busses parked in front. Until I finally figured why all the busses are there… Another park atop a hill. QingDao has surprisingly many hills (well…this is probably surprising only to somebody who has spent the last 2.5 years in bed-flat Shanghai).

QD_20070604_103703.jpg: The park’s name actually means: Signal (literally “information number”) Hill Park as it was used for relaying signals in former times. Here 2 flags out of the flag alphabet. Well…Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet, but due to international standards are forced to use the same flags at times. I picked one which I can translate: “N” just by itself stands for “No, don’t agree, don’t have”. Not so surprising…agreement is (if the inscription are correct) actually “C”. That I can’t link to any language I am familiar with…

QD_20070604_103951.jpg: Modern Chinese communication. Pay attention to the loose cables at the bottom and the birds nest on the atenna… 😉

QD_20070604_104645.jpg: Citing the official inscription: “The stone eagle is located on the slope of Mt. XiShan, where a stone table was erected during the period of German occupation, symbolizing the history of China under foreign invasion. The stone tablet was demolished after the year 1949 and the stone was later carved into an eagle as a symbol of a guard for the motherland.”

QD_20070604_102250.jpg: A place I really wanted to see: The old German Gouverneur General’s mansion. LP writes that German Kaiser Wilhelm immediately sacked the gouverneur who had built this villa after receiving the bill of the construction cost. Must be very impressive…and so it is, isn’t it? I just doubt it is authentic German style. Has in my eyes elements of Disney World (which in turn means: elements of Castle Neuschwanstein, as Disney didn’t exist by the time of construction). Note: This is meant to be the Gouverneur’s home! Not his office…that is yet another building.

QD_20070604_111223.jpg: Well, it is impressive. It was later turned into a state guest house and used by Chinese top leaders as well as some international high politicians. Over and over mentioned was the one visit of Chairman Mao, also here for this room, in which Mao “presided over the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Comittee of the Communist Party of China, attended by Mr. Zhou Enlai, Mr. Zhu De, Mr. Liu Shaoqi and Mr. Deng Xiaoping.”

QD_20070604_111326.jpg: A little, probably often unnoticed detail: The house was equipped with central heating. Here even in the winter garden, which makes sense, as it is a winter garden. And China later added an air condition. Does that make sense….?

QD_20070604_111853.jpg: The house has very many rooms and some preserved original German furniture. Here just as an example the central hall, to get an idea of the size of this building. The grandfather’s pendulum clock to the right of the entrance even rang (the first quarter of an hour) by the time I made the picture!

QD_20070604_112849.jpg: Another detail, this one did not go unnoticed: A half-transparent window, letting light in from the winter garden into under the stairway of the entrance hall. On a glimpse you would say it is a Madonna-like woman, but I am pretty sure she has Asian-style eyes. Not sure if that detail of the detail was noticed by many 😉

On the way to the next park a man approached me on the street. This is insofar notable as there are only very few street peddlers in QingDao. So I can walk along very much undisturbed, which I like very much. That man just asked me where I go to start a bit of a talk…where you come from…where you go…in very broken, but understandable English. And as so often he was delighted to learn that I am German. He even said that the Germans have done a lot of good to QingDao. I had this statement double-confirmed, thinking of previous signs’ inscriptions reading “occupation” or “invasion”. But he meant it. He also offered to guide me in the evening. But I solved that the Chinese way: “I might come back on that”…and then nobody insisted on exchange mobile phone numbers.


QD_20070604_121347.jpg: Tja…this church I missed to see. This one here is a cute little model in XiaoYuShan Park (小鱼山公园). That park is not mentioned and a bit difficult to find as the street is mostly a car street with only a small side strip left for the rest of the world. But again nice, and again atop of yet another hill. And it features models scaled 1:15 of various famous buildings. The Protestantic Church being one of them.

QD_20070604_122237.jpg: Remember yesterday’s picture of the pagoda during sun set above a beach? Here’s the beach…as I was now standing at the top of that pagoda in XiaoYuShan Park (小鱼山公园).

BTW: The park has nothing to do with small fished (Xiao Yu). The name is a rather new one and was changed to it by the time the street alongside the park was changed to XiaoYuShanLu. I forgot why that street’s name was changed…

QD_20070604_133037.jpg: Yet another park, ZhongShan Park (中山公园). The largest…and surprisingly with 3 Yuan the cheapest. Although a lot of nice landscape it did not impress me as the others did. Except for that I finally found a small snack place, which sold meat scewers, so I sat down for a snack 😉

QD_20070604_135233.jpg: And then took the cable car to the near-top of the next hill, in the hope to be able to hike a little there, still amongst forest. But that was disappointing: You could visit the TV Tower, which I circled around, but didn’t go inside for 30 RMB. But then I found a sign “walk down-hill, just 5 minutes”. Well…better than nothing…it was really only 5 minutes.

QD_20070604_142047.jpg: And ended in another little park, apparently only used by residents and wedding couples taking pictures. This here looks nice, but the place stinks…the water doesn’t flow and is full of algae.

Added 2007-06-05:

I knew when taking the decision to walk down-hill the appointed way that I would likely end up on the far side of the hill, not on the sea side. But so far I had actually overestimated distances and had found myself a lot quicker at places than anticipated. So I thought…well…it isn’t that long…you just walk around. With a little luck there might even be away at the hills foot.

There wasn’t. At least I did not find it and my tourist map wasn’t that detailed. I ended up in some back streets of QingDao, neither charted not worth visiting (which might be the reason there weren’t charted ;)) Just finding myself on the map again took some 10 minutes of walking. On a charted street I walked back into the right direction, but soon had to figure out that it would take a little longer, when I spotted a bus stop 30m in front of me. And right behind me did this bus really come at that very moment. Not much chance thinking about where that bus would probably go I ran after it, flagged it down, and jumped on. Number 220. I had read 220 before…but then, QingDao has so many busses… I luckily got a seat and could start studying my map. My map says that in the street where I catched the bus there aren’t any busses… Hm…it needed another 3 stops until I found myself. Not too bad actually, I changed plans a bit and got off at a big square from where I could walk the remaining distance back down to the beach in a matter of 20 inutes or so, where I hit “Music Square” (音乐广场).

QD_20070604_150658.jpg: We see from the timestamps that this “catching the bus into the blue” event took me 45 minutes…and here we are: If I read the signs correctly then this is supposingly to become the Beijing Olympics’ Sailing area! Impressive, isn’t it? But all QingDao is plastered with Olympics slogans, you can’t run away from it. And here it all shall take place next year.

QD_20070604_150706.jpg: Turning around 120 degrees: And this is where the spectators will stand? At the moment it’s just a promenade full of souvenir shops of the “all sell the same” style. Nearly…the first one offered ice cream, a welcome refreshment in the burning sun.

QD_20070604_151045.jpg: Hm…I had thought this is Music Square…but the map now tells me it’s “Wusi Square” (五四广场). I don’t know why the first part of the square’s name has not been translated…probably it sounds too silly 😉 “Five Four Square”. Please, don’t ask me where the name comes from! But there were comparably many tourists around (I had mentioned that so far I had seen farly few, hadn’t I?), so it must be something fancy.

QD_20070604_152041.jpg: The most interesting were actually the kites being flown from here. Doesn’t make sense to take a picture of them in the sky, you won’t see anything. But if you think people would have fun holding the kites in their hands: Wrong! They have fun seeing them in the sky. Once it is up in the sky the spindle is fixed on the ground or, like in this pic, at a lamp pole.

QD_20070604_152527.jpg: Despite it being sunny and hot I could go for a coffee. And now that I was walking the modern east part of QingDao I was intensively looking for something green. Well, yes, Starbucks is green and everybody knows I like it. But it seems that many other companies followed suit: UBS Coffee or SPR Coffee, and even some just local shops. So looking for a green sign isn’t so bad an idea. And here I really found a place! An SPR Coffee, a bit tucked away, and still perfectly located at a park strip between Wusi Square and the enormous (both in size and unstylishness) building of the city government.

Here I found a perfect big cup of Cappucchino (hm, well, yes, in fact it was definitely better than at Starbucks….), a tasty piece of cake. And some company: The place’s manager introduced herself and sat down for a chat. Where from, where to…that kind of stuff. A very enjoyable break. I used that chance to get my tomorrow’s trip plans confirmed: Which bus to take to LaoShan. The answer was consistent with the books: 304.

QD_20070604_164105.jpg: Due to my sudden bus ride two hours ago I had skipped a strip of beach I wanted to see. So I took another bus a bit back. And here I came through some German-style streets! I am not talking about any specific building with some kind of turn-of-the-century style. I am talking about the impression of the entire neighbourhood: The streets were smaller, often as small as to allow one row of parking cars with enough room left for a single car passing by. Trees to both sides, a well-maintained pedestrian way. And ‘small’ houses in the sense of: At maximum 2 storeys. 2 or 3 families. Some villas. A very quiet, very nice neighbourhood were I would love living. The above picture I picked because of the warning sign: That’s the first time ever I see a “warning, crossing” sign in China.

When reaching the beach again I found a row of OK-looking restaurants. And a cafe. All nicely laid out directly at the sea promenade. Darn, I just had have a coffee…and for dinner it was definitely too early… That’s a pitty. It was the only 300 meters I found, which adhered to LP’s description of beaches are dotted all over with restaurants.

QD_20070604_172452.jpg: I walked around a corner and came to Number 3 Bathing Beach. Fine-granulated sand, still warm, though the sun starting setting. After resting a moment (which is when this picture came into existence) I took off my shoes and walked to the water. I had to stand in the Yellow Sea at least once, I though! Pretty…hm…let’s say refreshing 😉 I wouldn’t have dared bathing, but others did. Also, the water by itself is very clear, but a bit of rubbish is swimming in it and especially loads of sea weed.

QD_20070604_174911.jpg: Nonetheless, the beach is great…they just need to watch out the it is still there when the Olympics begin if this little guy keeps going like it did: It is great that he learned to throw things into a waste-bin…but does it necessarily needs to be the beaches sand? 😉 Other grown-ups where digging into the sand, large holes! Usually the job for kids. Apparently they were searching for something, which they, when found, put into a jam jar. I guess it was about small crabs.

Shortly before reaching the beach I had seen a very decent looking place called “Cafe Roland”. One of this ‘small’ German houses, which could have well been a 3 or 4 family house in Germany. Big garden area in front with lots of tables and chairs, also decent looking (not plastic, but wood and iron). There I returned and was delighted to see that they even have an English menu! But I interrupted the staff’s daily lineup, which I frequently see at all restaurants and hotels: All staff is collected and lined up in front of the hotel/restaurant/place (so for everyone to see) and the manager talks some (tough?) words to them. Some even need to repeat some slogans…reminds me of my school, where we also had to get up when the teacher came in and had to greet in a chorus. Yeah…I was on a christian high-school! But with grown-ups it looks a bit weird, to be honest.

Anyway, one lady had to leave the lineup to receive me at the entrance. I picked one of the outside tables where I was the only one save for 2 locals sitting there for a cup of tea. She brought me the drink list. When I asked for the dinner menu she ran back to the entrance to the street and picked the menu from the podest where it was laid out for passers-by to look into. Well, I asked, you have only one menu? Yes, she answered… (BTW, Chinese, despite an English menu they couldn’t speak English.) I wondered silently, ordered a salad, salmon, and a beer. I was served well. But all new guests coming in went directly inside and up on the second floor. Nobody wanted to sit outside. What a pitty! Without sun it indeed became a bit more chilly, but easily doable with long sleaves, maybe a light jacket. And out there you could still here the beach, combined with some low background music. Was fantastic!

QD_20070604_191506.jpg: Thereafter I had a last long walk along the QingDao beaches and made some night shots, here one of them, before I somewhere hours later hopped on a bus home.

OK, this text was definitely way too long…I won’t be able to maintain this level of detail every day. And you probably won’t read all of that anyway. So expect shorter documents in the future!

Today’s Lesson: KISS – Keep it short and simple.

Categories: AsiaQingDao

Originally Created: 06/04/2007 03:47:02 PM

Last Edited: 06/05/2007