The first impression that Qingdao gave me was: “Wow, such a modern seaside city.” Unlike the past 4 days in Guilin, our 4 days in Qingdao were more relaxed as we didn’t have a list of attractions to complete. After all, I have a friendly local host by the name of Tiantian. (:
After a long night’s rest, my tour guide and I (lol) set off early in the morning for Badaguan (八大关), a scenic spot made up of 8 streets named after 8 great military forts in the ancient times. The streets are made up of European houses built when Qingdao was colonised by Germany. To me, it’s like a high class housing estate, with large grassy lawns, luxuriant trees and wide roads with minimal traffic. No wonderwedding photography is such a commonplace here.
Next, we visited Huashi Villa (花石楼), a medieval castle that was built and owned by a Russian, but eventually became the home to Jiang Jie-Shi (蔣介石) as his villa during the Chinese Civil War. There isn’t much stuff worth looking in this small castle, but climbing up to the top will afford you with one of the best views of Qingdao’s picturesque beaches and Badaguan area. It would be great if I can own such a lovely castle with a surrounding view as nice as this after I retire… Lol :P
Number Two Bathing Beach (第二海水浴场)
One can never miss the long stretches of beach if one was to visit Qingdao. After visiting Hua Shi Lou, we dropped by the Number Two Bathing Beach (第二海水浴场). I guess it’s called a bathing beach for the cute blue houses along the beach which are bathing spots. Here, you can see for yourself the booming wedding photography industry in Qingdao, for there will always be flocks of couples (note the word flock) posing in all kinds of pre-defined positions. Hmm, no doubt the scenery is good, but it’s probably too commercialised and eventually, the wedding photos wouldn’t be unique at all.
Besides the soft sands, there are also rocky crops by the sea which are a natural habitat for cockles. Yep, you can come here to collect free cockles for meals. (: However, the sand here didn’t feel as soft as the one in Redang. I prefer the beaches in Redang in that sense. Luckily, the beach was pretty empty when we went there – I heard the crowd could be packed like sardines in summer.
Lunch and the afternoon
For lunch, we had a variety of small food in Pi Chai Yuan (劈柴院), a newly renovated street with small eateries. In Qingdao, seafood is extremely cheap and common, which explains the exotic variety of seafood along the streets. I wasn’t up for starfishes, but the sea urchin tasted like Chawanmushi lol. Besides that, another dish that was new to me was tofu brain (豆腐脑), which is a bowl of beancurd with salty gravy. But the greatest mention must go to the fried dumplings, which tasted exceptionally yummy and only 3 RMB for 10 of them! (:
After lunch, we visited Ji Mo Lu (即墨路) which was akin to Bugis Street of Singapore. Nothing worth mentioning about the place, except for the fact that I got myself an anti-glare screen protector that was about to peel off a few days later. :(
We then made a short stop by St Michael’s Cathedral (天主教堂), a grand Romanesque architecture which was a product of strong German’s presence in the past. Being here reminded me of the times I had in Europe, a place of beautiful medieval architecture.
Zhan Qiao (栈桥)
A short walk from here brought us to Zhan Qiao (栈桥), which is said to be the iconic landmark of Qingdao. It looks like any other bridge in my opinion, but it provides a panaromic view of the city area. While we were there, the bridge is almost about to be flooded as it was during the high tide. :X Having some time before dinner, we also took a boat ride from along the coast of Qingdao, which lasted for a short 20 minutes. It was quite a waste of money, considering the short ride and misty sea view…
Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre (青岛奥林匹克帆船中心)
For dinner, I joined Tiantian and her family in a seafood restaurant beside Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre (青岛奥林匹克帆船中心), which was the sailing location for the Bejing 2008 Olympics. Well, let the following collage speak for the food. :P One thing about having seafood in Qingdao is that it has made me sick of abalone, which is my favourite at any wedding functions.
The sailing centre is brightly lit up with spotlights in the night, with the iconic Olympic logo and a humongous Olympic torch in the distance. Interestingly, there were buggy cars for rent, which Tiantian and I spent half an hour cycling around the area like little kids. Yet, the dumb thing was that we couldn’t return the buggy car at the other end of the plaza, which forced us to cycle back.
Eventually, we decided to walk back to the other end of the plaza where a street of pubs were located, and that marked the end of our first day in Qingdao. Without a visit to the pub. Lol.