Newlyweds Taking Wedding Photos
Chinese weddings are made of three stages: signature of the paperwork with the civil authority, the photographs, and the banquet with much importance being given to the wedding photos, which are usually taken in a scenic place (or places) of choice of the couple.
Over the weekends, literally hundreds of newlyweds flock into Qingdao for their wedding photographs. Two favorite places are at the Bathing Beach #2 and on the rocky coastline between Beach #2 and Beach #3, where in the day of my visit I could notice dozens of couples in line to secure the best spots. The most interesting part of the story is that, under the burning sun, dressed up with their wedding dresses, none of those couples looked happy!
"My 1st trip in China"
We have off for 6 days for the Chinese New Years/Spring festival holiday. Everyone goes to their hometown and just stays in eating and celebrating with family. The country literally shuts down for an entire week! After celebrating New Years eve and New Years day. I convinced some of the other foreign teachers to come with me on a little trip to Qingdao.
We left Monday morning around 7:15am to get to the train station. We were a bit early but it was good because the Chinese lines can take forever!!! I heard that sometimes a wait at the train station for a ticket can be over 2 hours. We were lucky and arrived just as the doors opened. The next bit would prove to be a difficult situation. Everything.... everything was in Chinese. No destinations in English and the name of the town we were headed to (along with many Chinese town names) had a different name in Chinese pinyin than in English. If a foreigner asks for a ticket to Beijing they will usually be understood and given a ticket to Beijing, however, Qingdao is not Qingdao in Chinese pinyin, it is Tsangtao (very similar huh?!). After much pointing on maps and smiles, nodding etc, we were able to figure out the Chinese symbols for where we wanted to go and as luck would have it there was a guy by the ticket counter that spoke pretty good English and helped us out. **Ive learned my lesson! Have someone write in Chinese the city where you want to go ahead of time!! Less than an hour later we had our tickets and 2 hours to kill before our train took off. We (Helen, Andrew, Laurie and I) headed off to find some food. The train was pretty nice. I lucked out and got a seat the entire way there. The boys had to sit on the floor until people got off at the next stop. The guide books said that it should take about 5 hours but we made it in 3 (possibly because we were on an express train??) The scenery was really nice on the trip! Got to see how the Chinese people live in the more suburban and rural areas of china. After we arrived we had another great Chinese/typical travel ordeal in trying to get the taxi driver to take us to the correct hotel. They make commission off of some hotels and thus try to take you there. I had my guide book out and ready and we made it okay. The hostel we stayed in was gorgeous!! It must be really new because everything in the entire place was brand new looking! Our room was cute. 8 bed coed room but we were the only ones the 1st night. Crisp white sheets, comfy pillows, big comforters, hot showers... what more could you ask for for less than $5US??? The hostel is called: Qingdao Kaiyue Youth Hostel and its a part of Hosteling international. Its on JiNing Rd. It was amazing!!
This trip reminded me of why I often travel alone. While I think that I got a ton out of the trip, the rest of my crew chose to sleep till 2pm and hang around the hostel watching movies. This really didn't bother me once I realized that they didn't care too much about seeing the city. Instead of trying to motivate them I used my energy to see the city.
Spent the 1st night just walking around where we were staying. The next morning I walked down to the pier. It was the 1st time that I had seen the coast since Ive been in China (and probably will be the last). The city was a German settlement and thus all the architecture is German style. The pier was really nice. The people climb on the rocks that dot the beach and look for sea creatures to take back and cook up. Would be charming except that the amount of pollution and garbage in the water is disgusting! I spent a few hours walking around on the rocks!! Also saw the Catholic and Protestant churches which were gorgeous. The catholic church was raided during the cultural revolution and most of the inside was destroyed. The locals stole the crosses and hid them in the hills until the revolution was over. It has been refurbished and is absolutely gorgeous. The architect designed it so that from above it is in the shape of a cross. Very cool!!! I missed the service by a couple of minutes but from the singing that I heard from outside I really would like to attend some religious service in Zibo to see what it is like. That's on my list of things to do on my next time off. The christian/protestant church was also gorgeous and well worth the hour zigzag walk that I took to get there!
On the second day I went to see the Tsangtao brewery. (Go figure that the group wanted to come to see this part of my itinerary haha!!) Qingdao is known for their beer. The Germans opened a brewery there in 1903 and some of the buildings still stand. I took at tour of the factory, saw a museum and sampled some beer. They didn't have shot glasses (for my collection) but I did get a souvenir bourbon type glass as a part of the tour. Hopefully it makes it through the next few months of traveling. The tour of the place was 50yuan which is kinda expensive but you get a big jug of beer, and a glass for free. Its a great tour and was definitly worth it!
Spent the third morning down at the pier again just relaxing and people watching. Then walked to a park which was quite far away and did some more watching. We took an afternoon train ride back to Zibo.
Overall it was a great trip for me! I really loved the town! Would definitely consider making another stop back here in the warmer weather!!! Think that it'll be 1st and the last trip I make with that crew as our idea of traveling differs greatly. It was nice to have company but sometimes it gets boring always having to motivate everyone. Met some great people that were traveling alone in the hostel and spent most of the trip just seeing the sights with them. All the people I met this weekend that were traveling were great! Cant wait to explore more of China!!!