After getting off the bus, our morning started with the hunt for accommodations. It was a pretty rough start. The winds were howling, and we were chilled to the bone. The accommodation hunt was also fun … not. We did a little bit of reading up on Lonely Planet, but the places recommended were out of our budget range, so we pretty much had to just wander around, and hope for the best. The first place we went to tried to charge us 300 yuan, and it was crummy as hell. There were bugs all over, and you had to shower standing over a squat toilet. Meh! The cheek of the guy. We did eventually wind up at a place with a proper bathroom, and a decent-sized room for 200 yuan, but man, Chinese hotels really suck. There was probably a mix-up at the check-in, because 5 mins after we settled into the room, a prostitute knocked on our door. She only fled after realizing we are all girls.
Here’s an interesting little thing about Chinese hotels that I learnt from personal experience. Pretty much all self-declared three-star hotels double as places for prostitutes to hunt for customers. If the reception registers you as a male, or as a pair of guys, just be prepared for phone calls asking if you’d like sexy massages, or for a knock on the door. The receptionist gets kickbacks for supplying the information. I don’t think there’s much you can do about that. My friend once disconnected the phone after getting one too many phone calls offering sexy massages. Five minutes later, someone started knocking on his door. Guess it helps to be a female in this situation?
After a short rest, we started walking around a little. YM really wanted to eat this bao thingy, but after we got a few, apparently, food in her memory tastes a lot better than reality. Sigh.
There are two things I’d recommend about Qingdao – beach, and architecture. It has miles of beach, and probably because we were there in October, it was empty. It was also clean, though somewhat overcrowded with vendors trying to sell seashell wind chimes. There are some hardy folks out there in Qingdao. There was an old guy probably around 70, who kept diving into those frigid waters. Maybe he’s training for a polar bear swim or something. I steered clear of the cold waters.
Architecturally, Qingdao is very unique due to its recent history, and serves as an interesting comparison to Shanghai. While China was not colonized in the nineteenth century by Western powers, it did fall into a semi-colonial state. This is reflected in the architecture of several coastal cities, where the effects of Western imperialism was most keenly felt. A fine example would be The Bund in Shanghai. Qingdao presents a unique case, as the imperialist power involved was Germany. Consequently, this is reflected in the architectural heritage in Qingdao. There were churches that I thought looked like the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel. In any case, walking around in Qingdao is a feast for the eyes. The walk was actually pretty fun.
In the evening, there was some sort of night market set up by the beach, so we ended up having dinner there. I was stupid enough to eat a fried chili, and ended up crying. Fun times!
Qingdao Architecture – I think this is now a police station
Qingdao Protestant Church, first built in 1910