There is a place in Qingdao called Huangdao, and within said district lies “old Huangdao.”
This is a place near the Huangdao Ferry that once upon a time was an island at high tide, long before the Free Trade Zone stopped the tides and changed the tidal plain into a container factory basin. You see the clusters of old buildings and the streets.
Yes, it once was an island. In this old Huangdao there lies a park on top of a hill filled solid with traditional Chinese charm, so thick you can cut it with a pair of chopsticks. It’s called Bei Hai Park. At the top of a hill you see the main attraction, a pagoda-style tower. There are low, dusty groves of pines all around it, and at the entrance gate there is a series of courtyards which conjure thoughts of the imperial era.
The Qing was so Manchu; this place seems more Ming. While here in remote Qi Guo territory we would have been quite remote from any imperial headquarters. (How strongly could the eunuchs in Beijing impose themselves out here on the Shandong coast?) Perhaps they built parks like this, just to let their presence be felt.
Old Huangdao has taken a turn however with the opening of the Jiaozhou Bay Tunnel. Indeed it appears that old Huangdao was getting most of its business from that traffic. Businesses are closed. Storefronts are shuttered. Less traffic means less people, and less of all of that means that this wonderful little park feels like a forgotten secret from some mysterious past.