22 October 2016

Qingdao: Seashores, Beer & German History...

Did anyone say Qingdao Pijiu? Yes! That once German governed corner of China's Shandong province called my name! Qingdao gave me tones of Germanic Realness with a dash of seaside scenery! Genuflecting before a certain European looking church I was kindly transported back to my home continent if only for a while! Qingdao definitely turned my Chinese National Day up!

Tsingtao Pijiu was crafted during Qingdao's German rule in 1903, bringing their brewing skills and eye for opening so much up for Qingdao it's safe to say Germany left a boozy legacy for Qingdao! Braving the monsoon conditions I ditched Zhanqiao Pier for the Tsingtao Beer Museum to get out of the dreariness. Set within the original factory that dates back over 113 years ago, I reveled in the fact that Britain had a partnership with Germany to establish the brewing of beer within Qingdao, China. I enjoyed the historical parts but as I walked around the museum exhibits it turned into one huge pile of propaganda. During Shandong's Japanese years famous brands such as Asahi and Kirin were founded at the 'Tsingtau Brauerei'. Enjoying my free half of Tsingtao beer it did the trick as the National Day crowd had the same idea as me to get out of the rain. Yass, the Tsingtao Beer Museum was like a Cadbury World for beer! Seriously Q!

Done with the my museum experience I wanted some seafood and beer, exiting that house of beer I was fronted with Qingdao's Beer Street. A bit touristy and brash for my liking but with the rain bucketing down I wasn't about to judge too harshly. Taking cover at one of the first restaurants I saw I was forcefully given a menu, I took a breath and was like 'wait a second' in Chinese because no one without manners gets my money in a hurry or at all! Settling that moment of impoliteness I got myself a supersize jug of ice cold Tsingtao beer to myself and some garlic smothered prawns because the other seafood offerings looking a little extreme for me! With my morning consisting completely of drinking beer I was having a great time, it was one of my main reasons for visiting Qingdao! Aside from the mental weather and the growing crowds I found it easier to take my time with my food and beer, I can never have too much of a good thing! Yes, of course I love beer! 我老实说爱啤酒!

Not getting to the church on-time meant I was greeted by a sea of selfie-stick warriors, those Chinese tourists were relentless with their snapping I was so over trying to get an uninterrupted photo of Qingdao's St. Michael's Catholic Cathedral that afternoon. Waking up with the birds I was determined to get a stress-free snap, the previous afternoon I paid the £1.00 entry fee to take a look inside this Germanic house of worship. Currently a working Catholic Cathedral with a Bishop named Joseph, he definitely chose a good English name! I at least thought a sense of respect would be exercised by the visitors to Qingdao's St. Matthew's but those blinding selfie-sticks were out in all of their glory, I looked on with disdain! Also I had never seen so many newlyweds having their wedding photos taken outside this house of God! Nevertheless, my photo was still and captured the postcard view I wanted! Take it church to TAO! Yass QI!

Much like Macau with its historic Portuguese ruins I was drawn to Qingdao to find something that told me this city had been shaped by European settlers and merchants. I stayed within the old side of the city, wanting to avoid the glass and modernity that I can see everyday in order to get a sense of how much European influence China has seen over the last 150 years. Remembering Qingdao's St. Matthew's Catholic Cathedral as it reminded me of Hong Kong's St. John's Anglican Cathedral that was founded during the 1860's as the first British missionaries called Hong Kong Island home. I have a thing for places of worship no matter what the religion maybe but I have no religious conviction, it's just something I take a keen interest in when I travel around the world. Being part of that slice of Qingdao history impressed me much, I had a plan to see specific things during that National Day trip! Of course it was nonstop! Qingdao had me crazy, I already said I'm not religious. Listen B!

Getting back on my sightseeing grind I was thankful for the blue skies that complimented the waters of Qingdao Bay it was time to explore and then some! Qingdao's Zhanqiao Pier was looking fine, if not a little crowded for that early morning hour! Grabbing my mid-distance snap I was prepared to inject some seaside Realness into my life! Dodging a few dawdlers, a group of Oriental looking guys stopped me in my tracks for photos. I was hesitant because I have grew tired of people asking for a selfie with me because I look different, but those guys were from Tibet and Qinghai so I allowed them a photo along the pier. Standing as the first working wharf within Qingdao's bay I recognised the original style of Zhanqiao Pier compared to the modern looking marina that stood on the other side of the bay. Turning my head I was living for the line of German buildings that came into my view from the pier! China, be proud of this!

Qingdao's old town served a stunning yet understated skyline that featured the rich German colonial history of this Chinese seaside city. Looking closer at the design of Qingdao's Zhanqiao Pier I could recognise a certain landmark from the Tsingtao Beer logo, of course because I drink enough Chinese beer! Turning my head to the right it was clear to see Xiao Qingdao was in sight, allow me to translate that into English that means 'Small Qingdao Island'. Had I drank enough Tsingtao Beer during my time in Qingdao? No, I stopped off on my way to Qingdao's Central Business District twice but as I enjoyed my morning alcoholic treat. I luxuriated in the fact I was getting looks of disgust, people needed to get over themselves and get a beer too! Zhanqiao Pier revved up my second Qingdao morning, taking me closer to the Yellow Sea that shares waters with North and South Korea. Praying for the bright conditions to not change it was all good because around every corner there was beer!

Finishing my first morning Tsingtao Beer I was in hot-pursuit of May Fourth Square, one of Qingdao's main focal points with the city's Central Business District. Deciding to take the coastal road when the bus was taking too long to arrive, it fared to be the best decision I made that day. Stopping for my second morning refreshment I had just been transported back to my home continent of Europe with German houses almost erasing my Chinese location, I was amazingly confused if truth be told! Sipping my brunch time beer as I overlooked one of Qingdao's many beaches, the scene was lovely there was no way I was trying the water! Unknowingly, the Badaguan Scenic Area would come across my path whilst I was in search for Qingdao's May Fourth Square. Millionaires avenue fronted me with a Qingdao edge, serving more Colonial German Overness I was impressed by those properties. Ja Tsingtao, I really needed another beer!

Swirling like a giant red tornado I was relieved to reach Wusi Guangchang, it was a four mile walk alone the coastal road from Old Qingdao! Situated within the centre of Qingdao Central Business District this colourful landmark served as a contradiction between the glass and metal of the skyscrapers nearby. I was surprised that the area around May Fourth Square was quietly energetic, creating the second stress-free photo opportunity in Qingdao and for National Day I loved not having to wade through a crowd of crazy tourists! Taking notice of the Downtown I saw a city that was rising, Qingdao's got a plan in action! Concluding my Qingdao National Day experience I made my way back to Old Qingdao with everything that I needed for my blog, it had been a successful trip even though the night scene hadn't presented itself at all I was more than impressed with this coastal Chinese city and its German past! Yass, National Day 2016's Shandong style was working out fine! Dankeschön Qin!

One More Pijiu Qingdao!

Joseph Harrison 

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