I walked for seven hours straight on Thursday, across most of the city. Qingdao is where China held the sailing portion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and it was a beautiful walk, with parks and beaches along the coast.
I wandered into a bar around 5:30 as it was opening and sat down for a Tsingtao. I was the only one in the bar and halfway through my beer a couple came in and sat down. They sounded either German or Dutch and when I introduced myself they told me they were South African and were speaking Afrikaans. They’re english teachers in Jimo, which is a small town not too far from Qingdao. We had a nice conversation about politics and the growing obesity epidemic in the States and now South Africa. It was a really wonderful finish to a great day.
Flash forward two hours and my fourth beer is sliding towards me and the bar is getting crowded. Flash forward another two hours and there is a large, mid-40s German man forcing Sambuca into my mouth and then trying to light it on fire. Flash forward another two hours and I’m dancing on top of a pedestal in a Chinese club with everyone applauding and chanting Weigouren (foreigner) at me. Flash forward another two hours and I’m eating left over kung pao chicken alone on the hostel picnic table.
After waking up feeling like the Gobi Desert was in my mouth I grabbed some water and checked my wallet. Interestingly, I had only spent the equivalent of $17 the entire day before. Huh. Asia.
I thought maybe I would go walk through the German part of town and find a coffee shop. Qingdao is a major Chinese port and has held an important place in 20th Century Chinese history. Ze Germans had a foot here for a while and took over the territory in 1897 using the murder of two missionaries as an excuse to land troops and set up shop. They signed a 99 year lease with the Chinese for the city and it’s surrounding territory but in 1914 the Japanese (with the allies during this part of WWI) took the city from Ze Germans and held it until they were pushed out by the new allies in WWII. The Americans then fortified themselves here to aide Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang until the People’s Liberation Army forced them out in the 1940s. SO, there is considerable German influence in the architecture and, most especially, the beer. There is beer EVERYWHERE here. Every shop has draft Tsingtao (Tsingtao means Qingdao) outside and people don’t use cups, no, no, no, they just fill up plastic bags and drink with a straw.
After walking around that part of town for a few hours I went back to the hostel and had a few drinks with Brian, a guy sleeping in the bed above me at the hostel. Brian has a masters in education from Columbia but wasn’t satisfied with the jobs he was getting in New York so he came here and now teachers philosophy of education to graduate students in Shanghai. His two friends came and hung out at the hostel and I called it an early night because of the debauchery of the night before.