Part 1: Shandong
Jun and I decided to take one last trip while we were in China in mid-April before we left for the US. We decided to visit Qingdao in Shandong since we both wanted to visit there. After talking about places we hadn’t visited in China yet, we decided to extend the trip a few days and fly to Taiyuan in Shanxi. Based on what I read, I thought Taiyuan seemed an interesting place to visit.
Our trip started with us leaving for the airport for our flight to Qingdao from Shenzhen. Everything went smoothly and we arrived at Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport in the early afternoon. While the airport is modern, it is quite far from the main areas of Qingdao. It took us over an hour to get to our hotel from the airport.
When we arrived at the hotel we discovered our room was still not ready. Jun and I decided to leave our luggage at the hotel and go and explore the surrounding area. We also wanted to get something to eat since it had been a while since we had breakfast.
After searching for somewhere to eat that was still open mid-afternoon, Jun and I ended up eating near the seafront at a branch of 1903 Tsingtao. The food was tasty. We also discovered that dumplings are quite common with meals. Having eaten, we were left ready to continue our explorations of the area.
We continued our walk around the seafront in the area where the 2008 Summer Olympic sailing events happened when Beijing hosted. We enjoyed the walk and the cool spring weather. As it got later in the afternoon, we decided to walk back to the hotel to finish check-in and rest a bit before we went in search of somewhere to have dinner.
After we arrived back at the hotel, we rested and cleaned up a bit before heading back out. Not wanting to go too far from the hotel, we ended up at a shopping center near the hotel. Jun discovered that a branch of a local restaurant was located there. The food there was quite nice. We were able to pick out the seafood and other dishes we wanted to eat. We left quite happy with our meal.
Then we walked a bit around the shopping center before heading back to the hotel to call it a day.
Our second day had us explore the historic parts of the city. Qingdao is a relatively new city as it began its current incarnation as a German colony in the late nineteenth century. The Germans were in control of the area for less than 20 years. At that time they built structures in the common architectural forms of the time used in Germany. Most of those buildings still exist, and many newer buildings were built in similar architectural styles within the historic areas.
The first place we visited was the Badaguan area. This part of the city has many intact homes built by the Germans or was later built with styles congruent with the German buildings. Jun and I enjoyed walking around the different neighborhoods and exploring some of the cafes, restaurants, and sites in the area.
From here we next went to visit the Site Museum of the Former German Governor’s Residence. The mansion is quite lovely with nice views of the surrounding parts of the city and the sea. Much of the interior is still intact. It was used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries to Qingdao before it became a museum.
From the historic site, we went further uphill and walked around Signal Hill Park. From many vantage points within the park, you can see many of the sites in Qingdao. We saw the Governor’s Residence, the Protestant Church, St. Michael’s Church, and Zhanqiao Pier.
Those last three places were next on our list of places to visit for the rest of the afternoon and in the early evening. Jun and I enjoyed our continued walk around the city. We noted that at times it seemed as if we were walking in a European city. Amid our walk, we took some time to have dinner.
When we emerged from the restaurant we noticed that it had rained. From the restaurant, we walked toward Zhanqiao Pier towards Huilan Ge at the end of the pier. From that end, you can see the city. When we were there we witnessed the city lights come on one by one.
By this time, we were both tired and decided to walk to the nearest metro that we would take back to the hotel. Jun and I were ready to rest a bit before going to bed.
Moving from the city to the outdoors, Jun and I on our third day visited Laoshan National Park. Located along the coast to the east of the city, the scenic area covers an area of 446 square kilometers. Of the seven areas we could visit, we decided to visit the Taiping Scenic Spot.
Laoshan is known as one of the Taoist mountains in China. Taiping Palace is the main temple in the Taiping Scenic Area. First constructed in 140 BC, the structures in the temple complex have been rebuilt countless times. The current architectural orientation of the complex originated during the Song Dynasty. Jun and I enjoyed walking around the temple complex in the spring weather and the blossoming vegetation.
From there we next went up to visit the surrounding mountains. We decided to take a cable car up to the peak. Up within the mountains, there were wonderful pockets of wildflowers and tree blossoms that created a magical feel. Jun and I quite enjoyed those spots. The walk down the was nice and we got to enjoy the views of the surrounding areas.
When we got back to the coast, we took a bus to the visitor center. From there we took a car to the Tsingtao Brewery so we could visit the museum there.
Tsingtao is one of the most popular beers in China. Founded in 1903 under German rule, the history of the beer company has gone from its original German roots to become a distinct and famous Chinese beer. The visit to the brewery and museum was quite fascinating as we both learned a lot more about how beers have been made over time. It was also nice that we got two free samples. Another nice thing we discovered was that the brewery has a bakery; they make quite lovely loaves of bread.
From the brewery, we went back to the hotel. We decided to order in since it was raining when we got back. It was nice sitting around the room. We watched a bit of TV as we ate. Soon, though, it was time to go to bed.
Our last day had us leisurely getting ready to head toward the airport for our flight to Taiyuan. Everything went smoothly and we had a nice lunch at the airport before our flight.
Jun and I enjoyed our visit to Qingdao. The city is quite beautiful, the food delicious, and the sites fascinating. I’m glad we were able to visit before we left China.
Continue to Part 2