“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
A flight from Latvia - Frankfurt - Qingdao taked us to China, home to 1 in 5 of all humanity, the most populous country in the world. We came here not just to see the beauty of this city, but also to participate in a huge competition ICF World SUP Championship. Here for 12 days we stayed in Qingdao, in the city with 730.64 kilometers coastline, five significant rivers that flow for more than 50 kilometers far away and population of 5,499,000.
Big buildings, ununderstanding inscriptions, helpful people. Which was kind of hard for them and us, they actually wanted to help us in all kind of situations, the language barrier was the main reason why sometimes they were very distanced of us. If you remember, when we were in Brazil, we cost 90eur for our first taxi ride, this time we payed just 12eur, so, our first impression was pretty nice.
Huge houses, many cars and people around everywhere. Arvis said that for him Qingdao city feel similar like Russia city's, I haven''t been in Russia, I can't say, I felt like i have got to in some american movie with immensity everywhere. How was little Enzo impression? He slept all the way to hotel, so, he didn't seem such interested.
Our first struggle was offourse with social media use and credit cards. We specially got a Revoult card ,to can pay here without any problems. But there even didn't have a opportunity to pay with card. So mostly all the places you will need cash our you need upload special application to can pay from mobile QR code.
Talking about media, you know, without VPN changer you can forget about using Instagram in China.
Our competition was after one week, so, our plan was just to see as much as we can in the first one. Qingdao city is 11,067 km2 big, so, even 2 week wouldn't been enough to see all the beauty of this city, so, we just searched the closest and most interesting for us.
If you have a plan to visit this Green Island city, keep these sights in mind:
ZHAN QIAO PIER
This is the pier that features on the Tsingtao beer bottles. It's the symbol of Qingdao.
TSINGTAO BEER MUSEUM on beer street
Qingdao is perhaps most famously known for the Tsingtao Brewery, which German settlers founded in 1903, and which produces Tsingtao beer, now the most famous beer in China and known worldwide. And actually the beer taste realy good.
Lit up at night, this graceful pavilion decorates the end of Zhan Bridge poking into Qingdao Bay. If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s on every Tsingtao beer label.
ZHONGSHAN PARK and all the other parks
Within central Qingdao, Zhongshan Park is a vast 69 hectares of lakes, gardens and walking paths; it's an amusement park for kids and is also the venue of lively festivals in the spring and summer. In the park’s northeast rises Taiping Hill with a cable car to the TV Tower at the top. Also within the park is Qingdao’s largest temple, Zhanshan Temple, an active Buddhist sanctuary. Qingdao itself is famous for its green spaces, the Xiao Qingdao Park and Xiaoyushan Park are also great places to relax.
Up a hill off Zhongshan Lu looms this grand Gothic- and Roman-style edifice. Completed in 1934, the church spires were supposed to be clock towers, but Chancellor Hitler cut funding of overseas projects and the plans were scrapped.
On the far east side of town in Lao Shan district, but now with its own metro station, this 2.5km-long strip of clean sand is Qingdao’s largest and has the highest waves in town (decent for bodyboarding); it can be very quiet in the morning too. The ‘Old Stone Man’ from which the beach gets its name is the rocky outcrop to the east.
FIRST BATHING BEACH
Also called Huiquan Bathing Beach, is a 580-meter-long and over 40-meter-wide sand beach located in Huiquan Bay in Qingdao. Once the largest bathing beach in Asia, the beach can accommodate tens of thousands of people at a time. As a bathing beach, the First Bathing Beach enjoys superior natural conditions with beautiful sceneries. It is embraced on three sides by green hills; it has clear water, gentle wave, flat beach, slow slope and soft sands.
TAIDONG PEDESTRIAN STREET
The buildings on both sides of the street are painted with murals, producing a unique color gallery. The pedestrian street has a large number of retail outlets, including large shopping malls, small and medium-sized stores, as well as a wide variety of snacks.
The entire mountain covers 446 square kilometers and hides 218 houses to see, so I'm sure that even local people haven't seen it all. Laoshan Mountain is one of the places where Taoism was rise and there you can find a lot of Taoist temples.
MAY FOURTH SQUARE
This square is the symbol of Qingdao and it is always full of people enjoying the local waterfront overlooking the 2008 Olympic Sailing centre ( Yes the Beijing 2008 games sailing competition was at Qingdao.) This place is definitely worth to see after 6pm, the lights on buildings starts shining and all the square turns into a magical fairy tale.
As I said, second week was all about ICF championship, which was a big deal for China, it was first ICF World SUP championship, so, for Chinese it was a big pressure and responsibility. About how we went in Championship, about highs and lows you can find HERE.
Offcourse, the curious question is about what people are here and how it was to be here with little blond kid. This actually is topic, which makes a lot of emotion in me. I can say, that the city itself is very beautiful here, it special in the nights, it's shining and attractive to explore it more and more. But the people here, ohh.. It was hard, they were rude, without manners, peeing on the street, spitting everywhere and don't even look where they are walking, they are ready to go 500m forward to wait 10min till elevator come, than use the stairs, the red and green light in traffic light is just like some decor, they moving chaotically.
How it was with kid? Awful, and it's even softly said. They looked at him like to some animal, acted like an animals, taked a photos with Enzo, and walked with him for so long while we admonished them, they puted they kids next to Enzo and tried to make them see happy, just like to one day can show them: ''See, you had a white friend when you were a little kid''. It was so annoying for us and stressful for Enzo. If first Enzo was very flexible to other attention, than later he start to sleep very badly, didn't want to walk itself, he wanted my protection all the time. You know, we make a lot of searches why the people act like that there, and I almost understand the reasons ''why'', but anyway, I believe they you can't act like some uncontrolled animal and justify with ''it's my government fault''.
Summary, this was an amazing trip, you know, it's op to us, make the best or bad from the all experiences. This was adventure rich with impressions. And I am very happy about opportunity to be there with all our family.
You know, reading is good, but seeing is even better, if you haven't seen it yet, than scroll back to top and watch the best from Qingdao with our eyes.
Thank you and see you!
/ text author - IRBE DĀVIDSONE, video author - ARVIS ILJINS, inspiration - Enzo who EXPLORES/
Below you will find small tips and tricks that will be useful for those who planning to travel to China:
HOW TO TRAVEL TO CHINA
Most nationalities including US, UK, EU and Canada citizens need a tourist visa to enter China. Get your tourist visa at a Chinese embassy near you.
Only citizens of 17 countries including Brunei, Japan and Singapore don’t need a visa to enter China.
WHEN TO TRAVEL CHINA
In general, the best time to visit China is during spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) when temperatures are mild and tourist crowds are less.
The busiest time of travel in China is during summer (July and August) and festive holidays such as the Chinese New Year (dates depend on the lunar calendar but it usually falls in January or February).
Another period to avoid if you’re visiting southern China (such as Guilin province) is the rainy season from April to August. If you’re traveling Tibet, be aware that it is closed to tourists for two months during spring and it can be extremely cold in winter.
INTERNET IN CHINA
If you’re looking to stay connected, I recommend getting a prepaid SIM card at the airport. Foreign passports are accepted only by the airport or at flagship stores of the providers.
China Unicom has the best 3G/4G connections nationwide. You can order your SIM on their website but it needs to be delivered to an address in China. We got our China Unicom SIM card for around US$25 with 1GB of data.
The internet is heavily controlled in China and many sites and social media platforms (like Facebook) cannot be accessed there. One way to get around this censorship is using a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
It’s easy and cheap to subscribe to a VPN service before you leave home. You just need to connect to the VPN server when you’re in China to access internet freely.
LANGUAGE IN CHINA
The official language of China is Mandarin, but there are plenty of dialects spoken in China. Most people in China speak Mandarin and/or their dialect.
It can be difficult to find someone who speaks English. Roads and buses only have Chinese signs and it is challenging to find your way around without knowing some Mandarin. Get the Google Translator app and download the Chinese language translation file to access it offline.