I'm back from a quick trip to Qingdao with the other foreign teachers at my school. Here are some pics, will go through and caption them properly in the next day or two.
The Qingdao train station upon arrival. The train on the right is a high speed train on which I traveled, the train on the left is a regular train. The trip took about two and a half hours.
The front of the youth hostel.
Inside the lounge of the youth hostel, which functioned as bar, cafe, lounge, billiard hall, restaurant...
The unlovely view from the window of our dorm room. Even in Qingdao there are the ever-present construction cranes; it seems it's impossible to escape them.
I walked down to the ocean when it got cool enough; it was still hot, but the breeze was nice. I was surprised how affected I was by the tangy smell of the ocean when I approached. Here is a photo of the harbor at dusk with the moon in the sky. Lousy picture, but you get the general idea.
The following day (Sunday), it was hot and I was feeling tired, so I just hung around the hostel talking with new friends. I planned to go out in the early evening when the weather cooled off; however, when it did, it did so in a huge downpour! So much water came down that people entering looked as though they had fallen in a swimming pool, and the ceilings leaked in some rooms.
So the lot of us ended up having a quiet evening in, eating and chatting. The lunch and dinner menu at the hostel was quite good; I got a pasta alla carbonara that had more butter and cream than I've had in months and was to die for.
On Tuesday morning, I headed out with a new German friend to explore the city. We found "Beer Street", which is the street on which the original 1903 Tsingtao brewery and museum is located.
There are a lot of beer-themed decorations on the street: benches shaped like beer bottles, trash cans shaped like wooden casks...
Weird artwork shaped like melting beer bottles?
The street was lined with restaurants with outdoor seating, and I wished we had waited until early afternoon as it would have been a great place to have lunch. The area was mostly empty at the time we were there.
Another piece of cool "sidewalk art" like I've seen in so many places here.
The front of the old brewery. The sign on the left promises that "Tsingtao beer can give you passion and happiness."
Scratch-n-sniff beer instructions?
This was just a wall between two buildings, but I was taken by the architectural detail.
I peeked inside the keyhole-shaped door like Alice, but didn't see any magic; only some pipes and a fellow talking on a cell phone.
The photo doesn't really do this fountain justice; the water is pouring out of the top of the beer bottle and each cup.
The mansion of the former German governor. Qingdao was at one time under the governance of Germany, and the then-governor used an unbelievable amount of money to build this incredibly opulent European style mansion with all imported furnishings and decor... and then the home country found out what he had done and sacked him. Embezzlement rule number one: don't get caught!
Apparently the servants were pretty short... this was the tallest door, there were even shorter doors off to either side.
The central hall of the mansion.
The chandelier in the ballroom.
The hanging lamps in every room were different, as were the European-style fireplaces.
The house had a lovely conservatory at the back, it was very bright and would have been lovely in the wintertime when light is low.
From upstairs, there were stunning views of the city and harbor. As usual, my photos don't do it justice.
A lovely little fountain in the courtyard with water lilies.
Walking back toward the hostel from the mansion, we found a Buddhist temple and just wandered in for free. Turned out to be really interesting. The first thing you see is a giant jade cabbage, with money carved around the base. I guess cabbages are lucky.
And then a spectacular piece of artwork made from the roots of a tree, with the stump carved into the body of a peacock.
Off to one side was this large bronze bell. A little disappointing that such a beautiful bell should be displayed on an ugly metal stand like that. The bell made a great sound.
The feet of my friend inside the bell!
In the central courtyard was a big cauldron and a statue of a dragon. To the right was a woman selling some tokens. People would buy the tokens and try to throw them from behind the dragon, into the opening and hit a small bell hanging in the middle of the cauldron. This fellow did not hit the bell.
Sitting on the dragon with a German friend I met at the hostel. His red hair got a lot of attention and everyone wanted photos with him!
Another section of the temple had a room with these figures in it. A sign outside the room had pictures of all the figures and three years under each one, so my guess is that they are saints associated with certain birth years. The paper-covered boxes are probably to put money into for good luck.
Here you see a prayer tree, with red prayer tablets all over it, and the incense burning station, behind which is the main part of the temple. The blue sign must say the name of the temple, but there was nothing in English at this place at all.
The main part housed this androgynous figure.
This attractive fellow is the Dragon King. His shrine was to the right of the main one.
To the left of the main shrine was this one for the Gods of Wealth.
This statue of Confucius was it a little triangle at the junction of some streets not too far from the hostel.
The town's famous Catholic church. This is as close as I got to it, because at this point it was time to go back to the hostel, grab my bag and head for the train station.
Ugh. Slabs of fish drying RIGHT ON THE SIDEWALK. The same sidewalk that I see people spitting on and letting their kids and dogs pee on. No dried fish for me, thanks.
Random German building in the downtown area, what fantastic architecture!
Time to go home. The train station's waiting room was rather grand looking with gold chandeliers and a vaulted ceiling.