Qingdao
A beautiful multi-cultural city across the Yellow Sea from Korea

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Qingdao, in the north of China, in Shandong province, is a very nice and friendly city.  The beaches stretch for miles and are relatively clean, for China.  It was actually occupied by the Germans in the early part of the 20th century for several decades, so there is a lot of German influence in the architecture.  It is also just across the Yellow Sea from Korea, and Koreans have been doing business in the area for many years.  In the end, it is a very international and accepting city, a mixture of cultures and architecture, old and new, with simple beauty and sophisticated charm.

We stayed at the Sunshine Seacoast Hotel, on the beachfront road, 73 East Dong Hai road, just east of the city limits in the Lao Shan district.  We had a really beautiful, large room in building built like a small castle with a spire and all plus a panoramic view for around 400 per night.  The Hotel was comprised of several of those types of buildings, which mimicked the German architecture that is part of Qingdao's history.  Framed in the background is a large outcropped mountain.  Out front, across the road was the beach and also the oceanfront walk, which stretches for several miles along the ocean.  I walked up the beach about a mile (further east), one day, to Shi Lao Ren beach where there are more restaurants, shops, and an SPR coffee bar with a view of the beach where you can sit outside and have some nice light fare, including seafood, ribs, and rabbit, with your coffee or tea.  One night I also walked around the streets in the general area where we were staying and found restaurants and shops, there, too.  Moreover, taxis and buses run by the front of the hotel complex all day and into the night, so it is not difficult to get a ride for further distances.

Since on the second day Ayu got food poisoning from eating street vendor squid, we ended up ordering room service from the hotel, most of the time, and the food was quite good.  However, we did discover a nice Korean restaurant  in a little shopping complex across the street SPR (and also a hospital to treat food poisoning), in the Shi Lao Ren section, and on the first night we found a really good seafood restaurant on Mai Dao Lu, which is at the east end of the town, proper, where there were a bunch of seafood restaurants and a bar or two, just a short distance west of where we were staying.  We also hear that there are many good restaurants along (they are called gourmet streets) Yun Xiao Lu and Min Jiang Lu.  There are a couple of Starbucks and SPR coffee houese, downtown, and Qingdao is also the home the world famous Tsingtao (another dialectic version of the name Qingdao) beer: you can tour the factory and sample the beer, if you have time.   There is an international beer festival in the September-October time of the year.

Up past Shi Lao Ren beach is Shi Lao Ren Guang Guang Yuan, a garden park with Chinese fixtures that has nice views of the sea and other nice scenery.  In what is called Old Qingdao, the old German section of town, you can visit a small European Castle, Hua Shi Lou (Flower Stone Building) and the Gongzhu Lou (Princess House), which is a Victorian, near the center of town, down by the water, around Guangxi Lu (Prince Henry Road).  Farther to the west of the town is Little Qingdao, a park, and the walking bridge (Zhan Qiao), which is a pier out into the water, ending with a pagoda, Huilan pavilion.  You can buy seashells and other trinkets, there.

There are plenty of shopping areas, in the Qingdao.  In the east of town, which also has Yun Xiao Lu, the eating street, to the west and north, there is a Starbucks and shopping around the intersection of Fuzhou Nan Lu and Yan Er Dao Lu.  Near the center of town, north of the beach is a shopping area that is closed to automobiles and is under renovation, now, with colorful scenes being painted on the buildings.  The main street is Wei Hai Lu, and the area of interconnected streets is called Tai Dong Commercial district.  There is also a night market, in the area, which begins after 5:30, with wares displayed all over the place, like similar shopping areas in many Chinese cities

Another points of interest outside Qingdao is Lao Shan.  It is the only one of China's sacred mountains that is located by the sea and has some of the highest points on China's east coast with peaks over 1,000 meters.  In days past it was believed to be the home of the gods, and the are many temples, historical relics and monuments in the area, including the 2,000 year old Tai Qing temple.  The area covers 400 square meters, so be prepared to get around.  You can rent a taxi for the day to take you around  for about 300 (less, if you are a good negotiator).

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