This is an imported post from my travel blog for my China trip in 2006.

Shandong province is clearly not one of the richest places in the world. In an unbearably hot train on the way from Caoxian to Qingdao (an almost 12 hr journey) I passed a lot of very rural country side, real country side, not the fake type that you get in Sweden.

With the help of our lovely hosts Chenglei & Jianglei (using the widely know and well-used method of smiling a lot and using their favourable appearance) we managed to upgrade our tickets from “hard seat” to “hard bed”. Apparently normally you cannot buy the “hard bed” seats in Caoxian (the start station) so the wagons with beds were completely empty apart from us and a few men who probably had some guanxi with the railway staff. While the rest of the train was completely packed with people, our part of the train was empty for several hours until we came to one of the larger cities!

Anyhow.. we arrived in Qingdao early morning Wednesday (4 am) having only a vague memory of the street name that hostel was on and after a taxi ride to a street that didn’t possibly contain a hostel we decided to give up and decided to wait until the tourist information opened. We found a restaurant and got a breakfast of youtiao (long deep fried “bread”) and lentil soup (chinese soups, porridges or broths deserve their own chapter!!). Eventually we found a 24/7 internet cafe and located the hostel..

Qingdao is a very pleasant town, it was founded by the Germans who had a concession here during the beginning of the 20th century. Their influence can be noticed in many ways… The city itself looks (in the old parts) more like a European city than a chinese one also the amount, availability and quality of the beer is something competely different than in the rest of China (the Germans actually founded a brewery which is still active producing the famous Tsingtao beer). Every night a beer truck comes and drops off kegs of beer at every little fandian (food place) which is then sold by weight in plastic bags or, if you’re not taking the food with you, in pitchers.

Apart from drinking beer – what have we done? Well we’ve spent quite some time strolling around Qingdao. We spent one night going to a fancy korean restaurant and then, when we told the laoban that we wanted to find a bar, we were told to follow “a boy” into a taxi taking to a weird korean bar that was completly empty – after having a polite beer we got out and eventually found another bar which we soon discovered was one of the expat’s hang-outs, they gave us loads of tips on where to find the best baguettes and pizzas – I doubt we’ll ever visit those restaurants.
Thursday evening and today (Friday) we’ve spent with a nice chinese guy who we met while eating lunch at his place. During the evening yesterday we first had dinner at his & his mother’s place, then we went to the pier and he & Marten played guitar and we drank baijiu (distilled liquor). Today (Friday) we went to the “No. 1 beach” together with him and had a swim, the temperature in the water was fine and the beach itself was very pleasant with good white sand.

As always, there are a lot of things I could write about but too little space..
That’s it for Qingdao.. Saturday evening we’ll go back to Caoxian.

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