Rachel Ashe came to China to simultaneously teach and learn. Below are some of her impressions of Qingdao in both text and images. Check out Rachel’s ‘Year in Qingdao tumblelog’ and find her on Twitter. If you’d like to share your experiences in Qingdao, please get in touch here.
I have been living in central Qingdao since September last year whilst working as an English teacher, and have loved living here for many reasons:
~ Even though it is sometimes relatively smoggy and I worry for my safety as the bus drivers lurch down roads which appear to have almost zero visibility, in comparison with Beijing or other big Chinese cities, Qingdao is relatively unpolluted – especially on those freezing cold, crisp, blue, winter days when you can forget that China has a problem with air pollution at all.
~ The old town area near the train station; you can easily get lost in the cobbled streets and small tree-lined alleyways – my favourite part of this area is that sometimes, even in busy, crowded, use-your-elbows-or-you-will-never-get-on-the-bus, China; you can be walking alone on the streets of the old town without a car or another person in sight.
~ Being able to buy Qingdao beer in plastic bags for about 8RMB and seeing the quintessential sight of locals carrying a couple of bags of beer in one hand and their evening vegetables in the other.
~ Being surrounded by mountains; often it comes as a surprise when you are walking along a busy main street surrounded by buildings and suddenly you look up and see mountains in the distance.
~ Never being too far from the sea: getting the bus from central Qingdao and suddenly catching a glimpse of an expanse of water ahead of you never fails to be exciting. Qingdao’s beaches are also the best place for people-watching; just for the highly inappropriate outfits some people wear (high heels and fishnets, anyone?); the ubiquitous wedding photography where you catch a glimpse of the bride’s trainers beneath her dress; the extreme measures taken to not get any sort of tan (in particular the slightly scary looking facemasks) and the way in which the majority of people appear to treat the beach as a two hour long photo-shoot.
~ The bus system; even though Qingdao is building a metro which will definitely be a good thing (despite my student’s insistence that Qingdao is too small to need this); as it will reduce overcrowding and traffic, there is something really nice about getting to know a city through its many buses and working out how it links up – something you don’t get on the more impersonal subway system.
~ Finally, I love Qingdao because it has a history and because of its European, German-influence, China can often feel very alien and so the cobbled street and German architecture of the old town is a welcome glimpse of home!