Voted in 2009 as China's most livable city, Qingdao (青岛) is a former German concession from the 19th century. It is now a thriving, bright city in a gorgeous seaside location. The sea air continually refreshes the air, with frequent, moody spells of fog, much like San Francisco. In the humid oven that is China in the summertime, Qingdao is a pleasant oasis to escape and enjoy.
I first traveled to Qingdao in the summer of 2008, as a student of Bard College studying Chinese; and most recently last summer, when I entered a more advanced program. I grew to know certain parts of the city very well, from the Qingdao University – in Chinese, 青岛大学.
I lived in the foreign students’ dorm both times and two memorable things come to mind about my stay there: 1. Befriending a mother cat and meeting her freshly-born family (documented by my LC-A+), and becoming acquainted with the ghost in my dorm room (not photographed. It tended to visit at 3AM, when there was very little light to shoot with.) The foreign dorm also boasts of a quaint internet cafe, where they had the most delightful glass tea set and brownies served with tiny tin men.
There are also many wonderful things to do in Qingdao as a tourist. Shoping at Taidong, the city’s largest pedestrian street, is a must. The night market begins setting up before dark and you can haggle the night away if you wish. You’ll never know what you’ll find.
Qingdao is also wealthy in cultural and natural attractions, from the Zhanshan Buddhist temple, home to scores of live-in monks and many, many cats…
…to St. Micheal’s Cathedral (天主教堂), completed in 1934, but oddly enough, not open to the public on Sundays…
…and the nationally famous Mount Lao, or Lao Shan (崂山), home throughout the centuries to several Daoist and Buddhist temples. Pu Songling, a prolific author of short stories who lived during the transition between the Ming and Qing dynasties, wrote a famous story about the Daoist monks who lived and trained on the mountain, a site so pure and removed from the distractions of the world that they could perfect their art – pulling wine from thin air, transforming a paper circle into the moon, and most famously, walking through solid walls. Mount Lao also rests beside the coast, where the clear water breaks over the rounded sun-baked stones.
Mount Lao also has many paths to reach the top of the mountain, but like the base of the mountain the lower you are the more swamped with tourists you’ll be; Mount Lao is a nationally certified cultural park, and a celebrated tourist attraction.
While Mount Lao is about an hour’s cab ride from the city, Qingdao also has numerous other parks, beaches, and cute cafes to visit, if only I had the film to have captured them on my last trip!
Pleasant, clean, and frequently cool: Qingdao is a welcome summer vacation spot on a hot summer in China. I look forward to snapping more photos the next time I visit.