A few days by the sea

14:15 Paul Robinson 3 Comments

We arrived into Qingdao and checked into westerner heaven - the Old Church hostel. The hostel had coffee, pool tables and muesli - everything you struggle to find in regional China. In order to stay in westerner heaven, I had to share a double bed with a mate because of room booking mix-up. It was a small price to pay. We all got a bit carried away with the westerner feeling and ended up filling our faces at a steak restaurant. We spent the rest of the evening playing cards, supping beer and having a laugh. I think we binged on familiarity after weeks of undiluted China-ness in Jinan.

The hostel room, which I shared with two other mates, was pretty basic. One of them was feeling a bit delicate and spent the whole of the first night puking, coughing and keeping me awake. By the time he finally got to sleep, I could hear alarm clocks going off in the neighbouring rooms. I decided sleep wasn't going to happen, so I went for a run.

We are staying in old Qingdao, which has a really European feel. The tightly packed buildings cling to steep hills. Tree lined streets twist and turn. It is still though, inescapably China. Aside from the neon signs everywhere, you knew it was China because even at 7.30am the streets were busy. People were out shopping for vegetables, getting their daily exercise and walking to work. As my run took my toward the coast I had to run through a subterranean food hall,which smelt of a cross between a pet shop and urine. It was just opening and the locals seemed bemused to see a westerner running past them.




I ran along the pier which was already packed with pensioners posing for pictures. The air was clean and the sun was shining. I felt good. Unfortunately there were no Chinese junks toiling over the waves, just a few unmistakable warships.



After breakfast, we all grouped together to walk along the coast. The sea breeze went beyond 'refreshing' and I regretted wearing a pair of shorts. Despite the chill, the sky was cloudless. After a few hours in the sun my face had turned that familiar shade of pink. Everyone else was fine, my skin is just rubbish.


cold


We had lunch in a seafood restaurant and filled our faces with prawns, clams and crabs. The seafood is great in Qingdao. We spent the evening in an Italian restaurant and a few other bars. My friend is fluent in four languages and spent the night jumping from English, Chinese and French (unfortunately he didn't have any Germans to talk too).  I found it hard to hide my admiration. My Chinese is still rubbish and really need to spend more time studying.

After drinking far too much and arriving back at the hostel far too late, I guiltily wasted the whole of the next day in indulging my hangover. I spent the afternoon sleeping, reading and watching saccharine soap operas. Once we could take no more over-acting, we decided to go for food. We intended to eat a cheap Indian restaurant, but somehow ended up in a glamorous Japanese restaurant overlooking the marina.

It was the last night, so we treated ourselves. The food was some of the best I've ever eaten. I tried foie gras, shark fin soup and oysters for the first time. I also had sashimi and fish roe. It was such a welcome change to the noodles and barbecue that I live off in Jinan.





The only problem with 'fine dining' is that I don't have a clue what's going on. I was served some XO beef and I didn't realise that I was expected to cook it myself at the table. I stupidly thought it was meant to be ice cold and raw. I didn't want to look uncultured, so I dived in. Humm. I lied and said how lovely it tasted. I'm managed to eat half of the frozen beef before someone came and ignited the hot plate. For a few seconds we watched the beef cook. The beef began to sizzle, my mates sniggered and my face burned with bright with embarrassment.

The crew


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3 comments:

  1. Qingdao sounds nice! Do you think it would be a nice city to live in? I'm hoping to move to China soon, and Qingdao is on my list of possible places to go to :)

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    1. Hey. Qingdao would make a great place to live. There's lots of things to do there if you are sporty. There is also more western influence there so you won't feel quite as far from home!

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