Hostel Marina was wonderful, located right on the ocean with a friendly vibe like a cute coffeehouse. After our stuff was unpacked, Mike and I met downstairs to find something to eat. A nearby street vendor sold us some grilled prawns and Tsingtao from the keg. Sitting at a little table overlooking the sea, I could not have been more content than at that moment.
We explored the waterfront area the next day, then ventured out to the zoo (small, kind of depressing) and the TV Tower, which promised a great view and mostly delivered. From the tower we spied a suspension car, like a chair lift or the ride at the State Fair. That might be fun. It was all right, but I think it might have been more fun at the start of the day than the end, since we were too tired to spend much time at our destinations. We were told we could see some of the German concession buildings from the ride, but we only saw and toured an authentic wine cellar from the German concession days.
The next day was beach day. Mike had no swimsuit with him, but I did, so I got to enjoy some time in the ocean. It was so nice to finally be outside and not be hot. However, Mike and I got separated for about 90 minutes. The beach was so huge, and I foolishly did not wear my glasses because I didn’t want to lose them. So I was staggering around blind looking for him, and he was looking for me in a panic. I told him that, if a foreigner washed up on shore, he’d certainly know about it. Other than that scare, we had a great morning.
That night we went to the Qingdao Beer Festival. It felt a little like the State Fair, but just a little off. For example, as soon as I got there I bought a beer. Like you do, right? I guess not, since not one other person was walking around with beer. Instead people would go to biergartens and drink at tables in there. The biergartens had stages with surprisingly good entertainment in them. Dance, singing, kung fu, silks acrobats—great, but with volume turned way, way up. But after a spin around the grounds and a corn dog, I convinced Mike to go into one of the biergartens.
Part of my motivation to go in was that I heard Chinese people love to buy beer for foreigners at the festival. The biergarten we went in had loud techno music and some giveaways, apparently. I got up to dance and got some approving thumbs-up from various other patrons, but nobody bought one for me. Once the noise got to be too much, we left. Mike apologetically said, “I am sorry, Sarah, but I am just not a party animal.” Hey, neither am I, but we had fun. After a Dico’s sundae to celebrate my birthday, we were done being party animals.
Mike left the next morning. He was a great travel companion, and I was sorry we wouldn’t spend my birthday together. But I was also looking forward to doing my own thing for a bit. I went to Xiaoyushan (Little Fish Hill—how cute!). The taxi driver dropped me off at a weird place, but I found a cute coffeeshop that gave me directions and a milkshake. The park itself was small and the tower was only three stories high, but I had a great view and a lovely cool breeze from the ocean. I stayed there for a long time relaxing and contemplating the beautiful day.
My afternoon was much less relaxing. I had a very difficult finding a taxi, and the ones I did find refused to take me back to my hostel. I’m not sure why; maybe they couldn’t or wouldn’t leave their district? So I walked. And walked and walked and walked. I did rest a lot, but my total walk was 3.5 hours. Necessity being the mother of figuring shit out, I determined which bus I could take to get the rest of the way home. My Chinese is still limited, but I worked it out correctly.
OMG, this blog post is a month late, so I’ll wrap things up. I spent my birthday at the beach and chilling at the hostel. My sister sent me a Kindle book, which led me to discover that I left my Kindle on the train from Beijing. One of the hostel desk workers called the train station for me, but four days had passed and they never found it.
Tuesday was too damn hot. I hung out by the boardwalk and popped into the mall when I got overheated. Wednesday I got on the train, and 19 hours later (Thursday morning) I was back in Nanchang.
I want to write more about Nanchang later. It’s a lot like teaching in Chongqing and also very different. I have a lot of class work and graduate school stuff that may prevent that, but I am going to try.