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by Steven

MoneyGram in Qingdao

March 14, 2014 in About Qingdao by Steven

MoneyGram announces a hookup with Qingdao Rural Commercial Banks in an effort to gain more market share where top competitor Western Union is prevalent. If the post office or bank lines are putting you off the yellow money senders, try out the red & whites at Qingdao Rural Commercial Banks in Qingdao.

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MoneyGram, a leading global money transfer and payment services company, announced today that it has signed an agreement with Qingdao Rural Commercial Bank (Qingdao RCB). Based in Qingdao, one of the largest cities in the Shangdong province of China, the agreement enables convenient money transfer service access for both urban and rural Qingdao residents, and foreign expatriates sending funds back home to family in Qingdao and nearby cities. Money transfer services are now available at all 330 Qingdao RCB locations.

“Our agreement with Qingdao RCB is another step forward for MoneyGram in China,” said Grant Lines, executive vice president, Asia Pacific, South Asia and Middle East, MoneyGram. “Consumers in both rural and urban areas around Qingdao are now able to conveniently and quickly receive and transfer funds from friends and relatives around the world. Given the increasing need for international money transfer services for our consumers in this region, it is an area where we are happy to have an increasing footprint.”

Formed in 2012, Qingdao Rural Commercial Bank was first established in 1951 as rural credit cooperative. The company is the fastest growing financial organization in Shangdong province and is a nationally recognized brand in China.

Relevant Links:
MoneyGram Locations in Qingdao

by Steven

Qingdao Spring Beach

March 13, 2014 in About Qingdao, Photos by Steven

Only in Qingdao can one go to the beach in March, in a coat, and dig in the sand. Just ask Ethan Gu’s daughter, whose photos were sent in by her baba. The location is the Old Stone Man Beach, known in Qingdao as “Shi Lao Ren“. Check out these other photos from a foreign student Kine at the Shi Lao Ren Beach during Summer. For more on Qingdao and the number 2 Beach (not what it appears, it’s a nice place, really!), check out this CNNgo feature on China’s “Beach Lined City”, that would be Qingdao.

Viva la primavera Qingdao!

Qingdao Eats: Braised Chicken Stew

March 9, 2014 in About Qingdao by Justin Reamer

Most of your fellow expats have never heard of it. Your Chinese friends know what it is, but chances are they haven’t tried it. There’s not even a Wikipedia page for it (which may not seem that impressive until you consider that there are over 750,000 articles in the simplified Chinese Wiki). Most importantly, you have never had it. So what exactly is Huang Men Ji? (Photos by Justin Cruller)

Put simply, it’s a bowl of chicken and vegetables braised in fermented yellow bean paste (trust me, it tastes much better than it sounds). Like most Chinese dishes, Huang Men Ji gets its name from the way that it’s cooked and the ingredients used. Here’s a breakdown of the name for the linguistically curious:

黄焖鸡米饭 (huángmènjī mǐfàn)
黄 huáng – Stands for 黄酱 (huángjiàng) aka fermented yellow bean paste
焖 mèn – Braised, the cooking method.
鸡 jī –Chicken, the main component of the dish.
米饭 mǐfàn – Rice, the one and only side to serve with the dish.

Many restaurants recommend that you dump the rice in and mix it around to soak up all the liquid, but it’s equally delicious to just eat it with the grain on the side.

For this article, I’ve translated Huang Men Ji as Braised Chicken Stew, since that sounds native and is also fairly accurate. Huang Men Ji is a bit different from your usual stew though. While most stews focus on the thick broth as much as the ingredients, it’s the braised chicken that makes this dish memorable. Braising is one of the best techniques for rendering your proteins as soft as they can be, and the chicken in Huang Men Ji is as tender and flavorful as any I’ve had in China. Another difference is that the savory broth that is in this dish is nowhere near as thick as a normal stew, and is best consumed in combination with the rice.

Many Huang Men Ji restaurants serve nothing but this one dish, the same way that many dumpling joints sell dumplings and not much else. There are generally four levels of spiciness available, from 不辣 (búlà) aka Not Spicy to 爆辣 (bàolà) – literally, Explosively Spicy. At certain locations, you can get extras like potatoes or mushrooms thrown in the pot for a few yuan.

Huang Men Ji is originally from Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, and has only become popular over the past several years. Recently, Huang Men Ji restaurants are popping up all over China, but the best that I’ve had in Qingdao is at the little strip above the underground walkway immediately to the west of Carrefour. Huang Men Ji restaurants are generally BYOB, and since nothing goes better with this dish than a cold bottle of Tsingtao, make sure you drop by the 7-11 before you head out.

黄焖鸡米饭 Huang Men Ji Mifan
Address: 香港中路 Hong Kong Middle Rd., Directly west of Carrefour
Hours: Seven days a week, 11 am – 8:30 pm – But be forewarned, they only make a certain amount each day, and if you show up after the lunch rush, you might be out of luck.
Price: Small – 17 元, Large – 23元, Extras – ~3 元 per veggie

by Steven

Qingdao Photos: Lao Tsingtao

February 8, 2014 in About Qingdao by Steven

The phrase Lao Tsingtao refers to 老青岛 in the Qingdao local dialect meaning “old Qingdao”, i.e. someone who is native to or very familiar with Qingdao, or something that is very historical and representative of the city. Check out the eponymous group on our site here.

Qingdao’s collection of turn of the century architecture remains evidence that this city was once a German concession/colony on the Yellow Sea. The title shot shows both famous churches in Qingdao, the yellow Lutheran Church (look for the clock tower) on Jiangsu Lu and the double spire Catholic Church on Zhejiang Lu just off Zhongshan Lu (original downtown Qingdao) to the left (only one spire is visible).

Check out the honey bees being kept near the tower at Zhan Shan Temple. Zhan Shan is the largest Buddhist temple in the city and retains a semi rural location in the middle of the green belt around Zhongshan Park and Qingdao Botanical Gardens.

Mom and pop shops operate out of family ground floor flats in lieu of a 7-11 or Hao Yi De. This one is near the COSCO Institute (Jiangxi Lu gate) in the Ba Da Hu neighborhood.

Bicycles in Qingdao circa 10 BC (“Before Cars”). This shot is from the mid 90′s, about 10 years before cars became common in Qingdao and bicycles were still the main form of private wheeled transportation.

Photos by ceramic artist Derek Walter, who previously taught English at the Qingdao Textile Institute and Qingdao Mariner’s College in the early 90′s. He’s better known as the Laowai Who Shagged A Minibus on the way to class.

by Steven

Shot in Qingdao: Qingdao Love Story

January 27, 2014 in About Qingdao by Steven

Check out this film shot in Qingdao, called Qingdao Gushi (青岛故事). See if you recognize any of your friends or favourite places in the 6 part miniseries. says “When a young man fights with his girlfriend and breaks up with her, his well-intentioned parents shower him with relationship advice. Can their wisdom help him make the right decision about his own relationship? “QingDao Love Story” is one of a six-part Chinese short film series based on the theme of “Truth or Dare” to commemorate Valentine’s Day 2012.”

Watch Qingdao Love Story on Chinese video site

by Steven

Qingdao Metro Subway Map

December 4, 2013 in About Qingdao by Steven

Qingdao Metro Skyscraper City

Check out the above map of the Qingdao Metro Subway Lines from Skyscraper City. Recently there was an announcement on the Qingdao City Gov website that Line 3 (Blue Line above) would be finished by late 2015 based on current construction rate. Earlier estimates had placed completion date at end of 2014. View a close up map of the Qingdao peninsula subway routes here.

“We are going to continue to work hard and try our best to realize the operation of Line 3 in the second half of 2015″, said Wang Yongliang, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Qingdao Metro Construction Headquarters and general manager of Qingdao Metro Group.

Relevant Links:
Qingdao Metro Map
Igloo Subway Design for Qingdao Subway Interior

by Steven

Qingdao Airlines Flies A320

September 29, 2013 in About Qingdao by Steven

The recently formed Qingdao Airlines has ordered 23 A320 planes from Airbus. The joint venture with Shandong Air and Nanshan Group will begin operations in 2014 with leased A320s and take delivery of their new planes in 2016. The purchase will first have to approved by the CAAC, China’s national air authority under the Ministry of Transport. More details below:

More info on Qingdao Airlines purchase of A320s:

Qingdao Airlines, a newly established airline based in the Eastern Chinese coastal city of Qingdao, Shandong Province, has selected the best-selling Airbus A320 Family aircraft to build up its fleet.

The airline has signed a purchase agreement with Airbus for a total of 23 A320 Family aircraft, including five A320ceo and 18 A320neo. The agreement was signed by He Li, director of the Board of Qingdao Airlines and John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers at the 15th Aviation Expo China 2013 in Beijing. The deal is subject to approval from China’s central government. The first delivery is expected to begin in 2016. The airline will start operation in 2014 with leased A320 aircraft.

“As a newly established airline, we need to have a thorough research before we make a decision on what aircraft to introduce to start operation and build up our brand new fleet. We pay much attention to the reliability, economics and cabin comfort of the aircraft and also take the potential for our further fleet expansion into consideration. We believe the Airbus A320 Family aircraft are the right choice,” said Xiao Liyuan, President of Qingdao Airlines. .
“We welcome Qingdao Airlines as a new member of the big Airbus family,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers. “The selection of the Airbus A320 Family by Qingdao Airlines proves again the preference of the market for our efficient single aisle aircraft. With a proven track record of operational reliability and the lowest operational costs in its class, the Airbus A320 will play a key role in Qingdao Airlines’ sustainable development.”

The A320neo is offered as an option for the A320 Family and incorporates new more efficient engines and large “Sharklet” wing tip devices, which together will deliver up to 15 percent in fuel savings. At the end of August 2013, firm orders for the NEO stood at 2,348 from 42 customers, making it the fastest selling commercial airliner ever and underlining its market leadership position.

The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling and most modern single aisle aircraft Family. To date, more than to 9,800 A320 Family aircraft have been ordered and over 5,700 delivered to nearly 390 customers and operators worldwide.

Relevant Links:
Qingdao Airlines Approved

by Steven

Qingdao To Be Eastern Hollywood

September 22, 2013 in About Qingdao by Steven

Qingdao is poised to become a Hollywood of the East of sorts with plans for the world’s largest film studio to built along the coast in the Huangdao Development Zone. The announcements come ahead of the official launch of the project which was celebrated with a party in Qingdao attended by Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, and other film stars. The move is said to signal the movie making business’s pivot to the East as China’s theaters continue to realize huge box office numbers for Hollywood’s major studios.

According to the Wanda website, stars in attendance at the ceremony to open the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis: Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Christoph Waltz, Kate Beckinsale, and Ewan McGregor; and famous Chinese movie stars Zhang Ziyi, Jet Li, Tony Leung, Donnie Yen, Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming.

The Beijing Film Academy built the Qingdao School of Creative Media in Xuejiadao, across Jiaozhou Bay from downtown Qingdao, in 2006. More details on Wanda boss Wang Jianlin’s plans for Qingdao and China’s film industry below.

China’s Richest Man and Qingdao’s Movie Industry:

China’s richest man is taking a $5 billion bet that the country’s box office will overtake that of the United States in the next five years and double it by 2023, as he builds the world’s biggest film studio and resort complex in the coastal city of Qingdao.

Wang Jianlin made the bullish prediction ahead of the official launch of the mega-property development on Sunday, which will be attended by major Hollywood studio heads and film stars including Nicole Kidman and Leonardo Di Caprio.

His company Wanda Group said it had signed agreements with a number of film studios and talent agencies to have about 30 foreign movies produced at the facility every year, on top of 100 local films.

Wanda also said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has signed an agreement supporting an annual Qingdao International Film Festival every September starting from 2016. Mr Wang said in a statement that it would be one of the world’s top international film festivals within three to five years.

The support from the Academy comes after Wanda announced earlier this month it had donated $US20 million ($21.27 million) to the organisation’s film museum.

Wanda claims the 30 billion yuan ($5.2 billion) it is spending on Qingdao’s “Oriental Movie Metropolis” is the world’s biggest ever investment in a film studio complex. It will include a film and television industrial park, a wax museum, an indoor water park and seven hotel resorts.

Qingdao Eastern Hollywood Wanda Event Catherine Zeta Jones

Qingdao Eastern Hollywood Nicole Kidman Gown China

Qingdao Eastern Hollywood Nicole Kidman

Qingdao Eastern Hollywood Leo DiCaprio

Relevant Links:
China’s Richest Man Bets On Beating Hollywood

by Steven

Qingdao Soar Auto Spotting

August 9, 2013 in About Qingdao by Steven

Car News China has recently published pics of a Rolls inspired “wedding car” spotted in Shanghai, made in Qingdao. Qingdao Soar vehicles made in the Rolls mold have appeared all over China, as evidenced here. Soar’s production facility is located in Jiaozhou, but at this time the links on Wikipedia and China Car Times to the former Soar website with info on the Rolls vehicles are not in service, and the current Soar site does not have any photos or info on the Rolls inspired vehicles.

More info about Soar on their website:

Qingdao SOAR Group Special Automobile Technology CO.,LTD Is located on the offshore of Yellow Sea, Jiaozhou Dagu River industrial park. It is 10 kilometers’ distance to Qingyin highway and 16 kilometers from Qingdao international airport. Also, it is close to No. 204 national highway, which means it is quite convenient in terms of transportation.

The company was established in 1989 and is one of the entrepreneurs approved by the national development and reform commission (NDRC). SOAR works on production, research and sales. At present, the company has gathered a team of professional and experienced staff in the area of special vehicle. There are over 30 staffs in research and development department and over 70 members who are professional technicians. It is proud to say that we have the ability to produce more than one thousand vehicles within one year.

Now the company products are as follows: medical vehicles, police vehicles, emergency vehicles, communication command vehicles, sanitation trucks, exhibition vehicles, stage vehicles, semi-trailers, classic cars, etc. Also, some products have been granted as the design patents. The products are used in many areas, including health and medical service, public security, police and armed force, radio and television, telecommunication, petroleum, fire control, water and electricity supply, marine geological investigation, etc.

Relevant Links:
Car News China
Qingdao Soar Group

by Hunter

2013 Qingdao International Beer Fest 8.10 – 25

July 24, 2013 in About Qingdao, Events by Hunter

The 2013 Qingdao International Beer Festival takes place August 10 to 25, 2013 at the Qingdao Beer City in Laoshan district. This year marks the 23nd anniversary of the festival that originated at Zhongshan Park in 1991 and later occupied Huiquan Square and Beer City. This year’s festivities extend to Dengzhou Lu, the home of the original Tsingtao Brewery in Qingdao’s Shibei district. Check out a promo video from Shandong Tourism here.

The festival is open daily from 10 am to 11 pm. Beer brands on tap include commercial brews like Tsingtao, Budweiser, Carlsberg, Heineken, Kirin and Asahi as well as Krombacher, Paulaner, Beck’s, Černá Hora and more. Long time Chinese bar faves Tiger and Corona will also be available. See the beer fest’s official website for more info on the beers and venue (excuse the Chinglish).

What to Expect

Vendors using the gaudiest costumes and loudest music at their disposal to attract thirsty drinkers and eaters. Beer drinking contests in a perfect storm of ganbei culture. Drunken public karaoke on big stages with performances by dancers and singers.

The perfect place for revelers who, in the words of the late Frank Zappa, “Seek the path to the sudsy yellow nozzle of their foaming nocturnal parametric digital whole-wheat inter-faith geo-thermal terpsichorean ejectamenta”.

Previous experience suggests that drinking beer at the Qingdao Beer Fest is an experience worth writing home about.

Qingdao International Beer Festival

Qingdao Beer Festival Dancers

The Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony takes place on August 11 at Tiantai Stadium. It will be televised throughout China on CCTV and broadcast live in Qingdao on QTV. The headliner scheduled to appear this year is Chinese-American pop star Li Wen. The opening ceremony traditionally showcases dancers and singers capped off by a huge fireworks display. The closing ceremony follows the same typical festival pomp and circumstance, and a fireworks show.

Tips for a Better Experience at the 2013 Qingdao International Beer Festival

  • Feel free to strike up innocuous friendships with perfect strangers who would like nothing more than to get drunk with you and then part ways forever. Or not.
  • Go on a weekday when the crowds are smaller. Less people means shorter lines at the WC.
  • Eat well to soak up all the beer, which goes very well with meat on a stick, aka chuanr, on sale along with other Chinese food all around the fest.
  • Ganbei (Cheers) with the World!

Tsingtao Beer

Qingdao International Beer Festival Keg

Qingdao Transportation and Accommodation for the 2013 Qingdao Beer Fest

The fest site is in the far east of the metropolitan Qingdao area, in Laoshan district near to the Old Stone Man Beach, aka Shilaoren. Getting to and from the Beer Fest may pose a challenge unless you stay within walking distance. The area around the fest is usually restricted for personal vehicles and some streets are completely closed off.

Taxis in Qingdao can be hard to come by during the summer tourist season, and the situation just gets 8 times worse around the Beer Fest. It’s probably best to avoid rush hours if you are trying to catch a cab in the downtown area. Downtown hotels are sometimes a good place to catch an arriving cab.

The 317 bus along Donghai Lu and the 321 on Hong Kong Middle Road both get you out to the area near the fest. Other routes that stop near Beer City and Shilaoren are 104, 125, and 304, all of which run along Hong Kong Road and stop near Jusco and Carrefour.

Finding a hotel in Qingdao: Accommodation includes the cheap and cheerful chains Home Inn and Jinjiang Inn to the top of the line Crowne Plaza, Shangri-la, InterContinental, Le Meridien and everything in between, either in eastern Qingdao near Beer City, downtown around May 4th Square, or somewhere in the middle i.e. near Qingdao University/Mai Dao area.

There are many hostel options in old town: Kai Yue Old Church Lounge and Old Observatory Youth Hostel, Nemo (Huangxian Lu near Strong Ale Works off Daxue Lu). A great place to stay might be near the old Tsingtao Brewery on Beer Street, Dengzhou Lu, the ancestral home of Tsingtao Beer. Check out Ctrip for good deals on flight and hotel packages for the Qingdao Beer Fest.

Contact Info For Hotels In Qingdao:

Near Laoshan Beer Passion Square

  • Sophia International
    217 Xianggang Dong Lu / 香港东路217号
  • Kylin Best Western
    197 Xianggang Dong Lu / 香港东路197号
  • Home Inn
    22 Xiang Gang Dong Lu / 香港东路22号

Downtown CBD

  • Crowne Plaza
    76 Xianggang Zhong Lu / 香港中路76号
  • Shangri-La
    9 Xianggang Zhong Lu / 香港中路9号
  • Grand Regency
    110 Xianggang Zhong Lu / 香港中路110号
  • Intercontinental
    98 Aomen Lu / 澳门路98号
  • Le Meridien
    112 Yanji Lu / 延吉路112号
  • Qingdao Hotel
    66 Xianggang Zhong Lu / 香港中路66号

Near Beer Street in Taidong

  • Home Inn
    54 Dengzhou Lu / 登州路54号

Old Town

  • Kai Yue International Youth Hostel (Old Church Lounge)
    31 Jining Lu / 济宁路31号
  • Old Observatory
    21 Guanxiang Er Lu / 观象二路

Relevant Links:
Qingdao Beer Fest Official Website
Impressions of Qingdao Beer Festival

Photo Credits @ Steve Price, Qingdao Beer City

by Gars

Daytime Morning Moon

July 19, 2013 in About Qingdao by Gars

Such a perfect morning blue sky. Inside the sky is the faintest, most touching moon. It’s crescent shaped. It’s a gentle haze. The photos try to capture it. They do not succeed.

Every once and a while, something appears of a beauty so tender and rare. Long, compound sentences distract from the simple beauty of it.

The beauty of this daytime moon is not just that we can see it. No- also note that the crescent shape also reveals the location of the sun.

Taken with some fresh air, an early morning daytime moon has been proven to vanquish many mental illnesses. The vague white colorings of the moon promote peace of mind. The colorings may be vague, but the peace of mind is sharply defined, like a cool pool of fresh, clean water or fresh clean thoughts.

Daytime Morning Moon Qingdao 1

Daytime Morning Moon Qingdao 2

Daytime Morning Moon Qingdao 3

Daytime Morning Moon Qingdao 4

Relevant Links:
Qingdao Photos: Lunar

by Gars

Qingdao’s Water Season

July 19, 2013 in About Qingdao by Gars

The life of the mountains in Qingdao is deeper than most people assume. Day in, day out; some people assume that the mountains are same old, same old. Ha! And once again: ha! I mention this because right now, we are in the midst of Water Season.

For most of the year in Qingdao, the mountains are dry. The streambeds are dry. All of those rocks and boulders- which have been worn smooth by thousands and thousands of years of water- are dry. That’s the simple reality. Normally, the rivers and streams of the Qingdao mountains are dry. But not during Water Season.

The Spring and Summer of Qingdao comprise Water Season. The perennial Qingdao fog cycle brings us fog, rain, and beautiful days (generally in that order), but for now, it’s the rain that concerns us, for it is the rain that creates Water Season.

After a good solid rain- say, 4 or 5 hours of heavy rain, at the least- the mountain streams come alive.
It’s much more effective with 8 or 10 hours of rain, but 4 or 5 is enough. After the rain falls, it usually takes 6 hours or so for the rain to (1) fill up the water table and then (2) come flowing down the streams.

Qingdao Water Season Rush

What that means is that if there is a good rain in the afternoon, it won’t be until the *next morning* that the rivers will really be running. (Also funny is that with the first rain of the season, if it’s not big enough, it won’t even cause the rivers to flow. It will just fill up the water table. That’s what happened this year.)

If it’s a strong rain, with about 8 or 10 hours of good, solid rain, the rivers will usually run for about 3 days. During the first day after the rain (e.g. starting from the following morning) that is when the water rush will be the strongest. After about 10 hours or so, the flow starts weakening. If there is not any more rain, the flow will stop- again, usually after about 3 days.

The beautiful thing about this water is that it is so clean. It came right from the sky! There is no
mystery. It’s not like the water was meandering from more pool to another one before coming down. It wasn’t hiding in some crevice. It fell from the sky and now you’re walking in its beautiful essense.

Check out the photo with the millipede. Look at the water on the right. It is luscisously clean and pure. Just look at it!

Qingdao Water Season

When you immerse yourself in that water, it feels really good on your skin. It literally fell right from the sky. You can drink it. There are no poisons between the mountain and the stream. Water Season is
good for you, no matter how you think about it.

Walking in the rushing rivers has been proven to be good for one’s mental health. Even the “whoosh” sound that the river makes has therapeutic benefits for those who experience it. This is another secret of the mountains of Qingdao. Those who can- and do- go out and find the rushing rivers during Water Season will undoubtedly find themselves feeling happier.

Over time, as it becomes clearer and clearer that Water Season brings happiness, it can start to become like a religion. The ancients worshipped stone idols. People here have been worshipping Mountain Spirits. Why not the water? It’s the cleanest, most pure thing around.

But get out there quickly, because it’s usually gone in September.

(Boy, is it great to be in Qingdao!)

Qingdao Water Season White Water

Qingdao Water Season Flow

Relevant Links:
The Cloud Line