Jinan: Shandong's Spring City

Boarding my High Speed train, Jinan was on my radar! Speeding toward Shandong's Spring City was all I could think about, seeking a mountain and spring was on my Jinan checklist. Embracing the crowds, keeping my head in the game I had the city of Jinan where I needed it to be! I chose something authentic as I ditched the tourist option for a hidden treasure! Get it Ji!

Jinan Railway Station greeted with me with a nonstop energy, catching a taxi I arrived at my hotel without any stress. Remembering my hotel receptionist days I wasn't impressed when my double room was traded for a twin room, I resided to the fact that it wasn't going to dent my Jinan chapter! Shaking those Qingdao hostel visions away I was overjoyed to discover my sub-standard hotel room had a bath, something I hadn't seen for over fifteen months since arriving in China. With the dusk fast approaching I made my way to Jinan's Quancheng Square, dubbed as the focal point of this 'Spring' city I got my blogger on, snapping away because time is always of the essence! Spanning for what seemed like a mile, Quancheng Square was only a stones throw from my hotel and I was about to discover that everything that I needed would be within walking distance one way or another! It didn't take me long but I loved Jinan bad!

As the sky turned a rich orange as the sun continued to set I found the atmosphere within Quancheng Square light and inviting, catching a glimpse of a nearby skyscraper in the distance I hit the jackpot as the Chinese flag was displayed for a few moments, Catching that classic snap of this majestic Jinan hotspot took some doing but the simple things in life just aren't satisfying enough for me! Trying not to give people the cold shoulder I wasn't going to be treated like a walking photo opportunity! I soaked in the sights, people watching like my life depended on it I could tell these people hadn't seen a foreigner before or at all, learning to embrace that difference for that moment felt good. Jinan gave me a sense of chill, I felt like I could finally relax for if only a moment before tackling my wildcard National Day destination. Falling in love with Jinan's legendary sunset over Quancheng Square I was ready for some rest! China is teaching me to take risks, Jinan was ace for that!

Getting down to Baotu Spring people should of known better not to get in the way of my blogging game, crossing the line I commanded that situation like the best of them! Securing my front row view of Jinan's Baotu Spring it was no joke, it was dog eat dog! Don't take my spot! No! Getting over that brief period of insanity I gave it my best shot to admire the active waters of that Shang Dynasty wonder. The National Day crowds had Baotu Spring and the surrounding garden in a state of crazy, paying the disorder no mind I got on with what I set out to do! The gardens impressed me much, I saw a mad dance routine by some Auntie's who were dancing to a kind of Chinese music, it was something else considering the scenic setting. Located within the heart of Jinan's city centre it was about a five minute walk to spring from my hotel, of course I was centrally located for the win! Ji, getting me all sorts of mad!

Oh no she better don't! Within the lush setting of Baotu Spring's gardens just a stones throw from the famous Guanlan Pavilion an unauthorised photo was taken of me, I tried to keep it cute but that lady left me with no choice but to get drop dead gorgeous! That unwanted attention was shrugged off once I had told her to delete the photo, she did once I explained to her in Chinese it wasn't right! I wouldn't of minded if she had the decency to ask me permission because that's not cool! Making a sweet escape I found the Bamboo Gardens and a cute courtyard where an exhibit showcased some Chinese calligraphy, remembering the wavy waters of Baotu Spring I knew it was going to be a good day! Jinan was throwing all kinds of amazing at me, this wildcard thing might have to be a regular thing!? National Day had got Jinan acting the fool but the 3,500 years of history standing before me within that scenic area kept it real, serving several shades of Spring city Overness! I had to slay B!

In search of something wholesome to eat, I had heard of Furong Ancient Street but I like to get lost to find something better than first intended. Stumbling across Xichenggen Jie, I slowed down to take in the understated vibe of this stripped back Shandong food street. Finding the main road I exited Xichenggen Jie for a few moments before taking a glimpse of Daming Lake from a place that didn't cost a penny, not feeling true to my independent thinking I ditched my attempts finding Furong Street, deciding to head back to that unassuming street was the plan for me. Taking my time I picked a small restaurant that had something to do with wolves, random name but that's China! Choosing an unknown dish, my Chinese reading skills are not good! I risked it! I had ordered a pork broth soup with a cabbage like accompaniment, I enjoyed it! Jinan's difference forced me to take a welcomed risk again! I live for that life J!

Shunning that foodie hotspot afforded me to see an energetic side street that served me a hearty and cheap meal, Xichenngen Jie was destined to be a part of my trip but I just didn't know it until that moment. Making my way back to Jinan's city centre area I stumbled across Furong Ancient Street, it looked so busy it was nauseating, pushing my negative opinions aside I found the correct side street to access this famous Jinan food street to see what all the fuss was about. My curiousity wasn't worth dodging the crowds and the unwanted smells, making a swift exit back towards Quancheng Square I counted my lucky stars! Yes, Xichenngen Jie had guided me away from such a place of pure craze. Hunger satisfied I needed a new outfit for the night ahead, grabbing what I needed I retreated back to my hotel before the night. Calling out to my favourite Chinese social media app I asked a favour to find a nearby bar. Jinan had another twist for me! I was ready for dark! So, let the scandal begin! Go!

My time in Jinan was drawing to a close, getting my head back into the game I headed for Qianfo Mountain. Let's just say Jinan served well in the nightlife department because I was feeling rather worse for ware but getting my life I was halfway up a mountain of one thousand Buddha's! Taking my own pace wasn't an option it was so busy I had to weave in and out of the National Day crowds who also wanted to climb Jinan's own mountain! I was in-search for a golden Buddha but I stayed optimistic and climbed further upwards, hitting what felt like the near top point I didn't feel comfortable with the state of the well-trodden stairs that had a certain slippery nature, it was too high to make poor decisions! Paying no mind I zipped my camera away and got inventive to get down those questionable stairs, these cakes are just for shaking on the dance-floor! Yes, in the end I found that shimmering golden Buddha! I felt so delicate!

Rewinding to my second night in Jinan I wanted to hit the town, conducting my usual China nightlife research I came unstuck with Jinan's rainbow nature. Consulting my go-to app I managed to find a way to reach 2012 Bar, tucked away only a five minute walk from my hotel I couldn't believe how convenient my hotel's location was! Sitting down with some beers I told my best ones where I was, it was a quiet scene to begin with but when the curtain was drawn to cover the stage I was curious as to what was going on!? A showcase of Chinese female impersonators graced the stage, some of their get-up was a tad tatty but one queen's look was truly on-point! Lip-syncing for their lives in Mandarin Chinese I was pleasantly surprised to see my first Chinese performers slay! Returning for my final night I had to tell some truth to this sassy Singaporean guy who was acting the fool, too much sass for his own good! I was like 'go sit down, gurl!' Jinan left me in a state, I needed some sleep J!

Now, Slay Jinan!

Joseph Harrison


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