escape the city to tranquil countryside
Lao shan again, I enjoyed this place, god knows how many steps to the top, ( typically chinese i am learning, they like lots of steps! This is much better than scrambling up a mountain wearing out the hillside, this way tourists cause less damage,near the top you can collect the pure spring water said to have life lenghtening powers, and famed throughout China. We had to do the same & take home for Dad. Needless to say this microbiologist didn't try it!
If you want to flee from the dusty smoggy cities of the Chinese interior, affluent Qingdao is the answer for you. This city by the sea is refreshingly breezy. It has boardwalks which meander along the coasts and beaches that reminded me of Bronte in Sydney. Like Sydney, it is also famous for its obsession with drinking beer, thanks to the Germans who taught the Chinese how to make the brew when Qingdao (Tsingtao) was once a German concession during the early part of the twentieth century. In fact, walking around the older parts of Qingdao will make you think that you are in a German town because of its Teutonic architecture and streetscapes. However, the Chinese calligraphy and the distinct Shandong province Chinese chatter brings you back to reality, reminding you that you are indeed in China. There are castles, palaces and mansions that are typically Germanic in style, which would make a homesick European feel more welcome. Go up the Xio Yushan park and the view from above around the neighborhood is very much like Bavaria. The Qingdao Guesthouse which was once the German Governor's residence, is probably the best example of German architecture in Qingdao. However, the Navy Headquarters is also a classic European appearing like it was transported all the way from Vienna! Alas, no photography is allowed of military installations. Although the German presence in Qingdao was only around 2 decades, their impact on the city was long-lasting.
Qingdao is currently the most affluent city in the Shandong province of China. The newer section of the city, a few kilometres west of the old town, is swish, modern and sparkling. Wide, spotless tree-lined avenues around the Central Business District makes Qingdao a showcase for foreign tourists, with row upon row of skyscrapers looking down at the modern avenues. Qingdao hosted the Olympic sailing tournament and the city built by the coast of the CBD, a world-class marina just for the sporting event, alongside a huge park which stands Qingdao's iconic symbol, the May Wind monument, dedicated to the Chinese protestors who expelled the Japanese imperialists in 4 May, 1919. Unfortunately the Japanese reconquered the city during WW2. Thankfully, Qingdao was spared from destruction during WW2 and many of its German heritage have been restored and put into good use. The harbour of Qingdao is so well positioned, that the naval headquarters of the northern fleet of the People's Republic is based here. Qingdao's history is intertwined with the sea. Even during the Tang Dynasty, Qingdao took advantage of its seaside location and became a resting place for pilgrims to the sacred Laoshan mountains, the birthplace of Taoism.
"Business and Relaxation Centre"
Besides the world famous Tsingtao beer, Qingdao now hosts the headquarters to some of China's big businesses conglomerates such as Haier and Hi-Sense, which manufacture everyday electrical products used by millions of Chinese households across this vast nation. Their successes have pumped in so much money into the city that allowed the town elders to build world-class urban facilities. Places such as Signal Hill, Zhongshan Park with the tall TV tower, are very well maintained and they have become a major tourist attractions for the Chinese from the industrial interior heartlands. Who would blame them? With sandy beaches and quiet coves offering fresh air and swimming facilities, Qingdao is a welcome respite for many stressed-out Chinese. And to sweeten the trip, Qingdao also hosts an Oktoberfest-style annual international beer festival serving a variety of Tsingtao beers in the beerhalls, of course! Nightlife in the city has improved dramatically making it one of the best party places in China. I will say that Qingdao is my favourite Chinese city!! Cheers!