After a few days of enduring the hustle and bustle of Beijing, a number of people recommended the town of Qingdao. In my mind I’m thinking quaint seaside port town, once again, I’m still acclimating to what ‘small’ means in China, and in this case, small meant a meager 8 million people. Nevertheless, the pace of life here was a bit more my speed. I thought of it as the Venice Beach of China, with gyms on the beach and 60 year old men rocking their banana hammocks while playing volleyball.
However, being off the beaten path of the westerner’s backpacking trail (ie top 5 cities in any given country), I soon found that i was the lone white girl at my hostel. It’s almost a double edge sword to be the solo blond hair blued eyed girl, as the Chinese (male) tourists were more than intrigued with me, although quickly disappointed to find out I have a boyfriend. Nevertheless, I spent the day touring the city with a few Chinese guys on holiday from Beijing. With their ‘superb’ English as they called it, we toured the city, and went to the Tsing Tao Brewery. The city was a former German colony so naturally it was the birth place of China’s most famous beer.
This was also my first time in China I really noticed the smog. I must have lucked out in Beijing, as I only had clear blue skies, however, as the train rolled into Qingdao, so did the haziness. While I could tell the sun was shining bright, there was no need for sunglasses, as the smog took care of any glare. It surprised me that the city would be smoggy, as I figured the ocean breeze would keep the air fairly clear here, however, it was almost as though the breeze just blew the smog in. I of course decided to look up the smog rating and it was 256 for the day. To be honest, I have no idea what it means, but below the rating were the words dangerously unhealthy. Might as well take up smoking while I’m at it and my lungs will practically look like the locals.
And to clear those lovely thoughts from your head, I’ll end with another cultural difference I discovered in Qingdao… wedding pictures. As I walked around, I kept noticing an abundance of girls in wedding dresses, I couldn’t figure it out. In the US, maybe you see a bride or two on a weekend summer day, but I was seeing hoards of these girls in their elegant dresses lined up waiting for photos. Apparently in China, they take wedding photos before the wedding so that the guests can see photos. Not a bad idea I guess, but by the end of the day the dresses were in shreds; not quite sure what they do about the actual wedding day, and so much for surprising your hubby. With 10 million weddings each year, I guess their only a limited number of lucky days for weddings and photos, so everyone just has to share (there is a lotta superstition floating around this country).
And on a more sobering note, I just read about the oil pipeline burst in Qingdao. I am so thankful to have not been affected, but hoping for the best for the city and it’s people.