The idea of visiting Qingdao emerged on a weekend while we were sipping Tsingtao beer. Ranganath said it is close to Beijing and we can visit by car in a weekend. However, he became busy after that and we realized that it is 910 Kms from Beijing and high speed train takes 5-6 hours. Hari and I decided that we will visit Qingdao on a long weekend of Tomb sweeping day. Next step was to book tickets. Two weeks were left and we realized that all trains were full. Vamsi was ready to join too and air tickets were booked with the help of Michael, a colleague. He also helped us to book hotels in Qingdao and Huangdao for the two nights.
For those who are new, Qingdao is a city on the east coast of China in Shandong province and is famous for the European influence, beaches, Tsingtao beer and seafood. It is also a naval base. Tsingtao brewery is the second largest brewery in China after the Snow brewery. Qingdao is a place where the rich of China have chosen to live facing the beaches.
We flew from Beijing on April 2nd by early morning Air China flight. We reached by 8.30 and took a bus to Qingdao railway station which was close to the hotel Haiding where we were going to stay. It was a long journey on a foggy morning and we reached the hotel in about an hour’s time. The hotel was convenient and was opposite to the beach. It was already and we had a filling brunch at a buffet restaurant next to the hotel. We relaxed for some time and went for a stroll. Here we had people selling boating tickets and caught a ferry that goes around showing scenic places. It was nice, but the day was foggy. We could see a nice light house on the hills and many big ships. After returning, we went for a walk on the bridge that leads to a pier. There were many people visiting the place and the atmosphere was festive. People were feeding the sea gulls. The sight of so many sea gulls flying towards the bridge in order to catch the food was unique. Later we roamed around and saw that dry and fresh seafood was one of the main attractions in the place.
Next day we went around looking for a local sight-seeing bus as we wanted to have a feel of the town. After some efforts, we were guided to a place where we could buy tickets and sat on the top floor of a double-decker bus that went around the city. Later we realized that this was a bus that ferried tourists to a spot from where they could go to another scenic spot, Lau Shan. Nevertheless, though fast, we could get glimpses of the city. This was beautiful with large mansions opposite to the beaches and great gardens all over. The bus halted at a place that looked like a large terminal and after going into the building we realized that there were people queuing up for visiting Lao Shan, a popular hill station, and it would take the whole day. As the return bus was quite late, we returned by a taxi. That afternoon, we went around looking for lunch and settled at a seafood restaurant. The chef cooked the live fish that was selected by us. Though prepared in a typical Chinese style, it tasted good. After lunch, we came back to the hotel and checked out. We caught a taxi for taking us to the next hotel at Huangdao. The road was excellent like anywhere else in China and had long tunnels. We reached the hotel around 3.15pm.
Haidu hotel was nice and close to the two main beaches of Huangdao. The room offered a great view of the sky scrapers around. We went around for some time and returned to the hotel in the evening. Hari checked with the receptionist about local sightseeing. To our pleasant surprise, Kelly, the receptionist said that she can accompany us to the sightseeing the next day. It was really nice of her. Next morning we were ready and Kelly and her boyfriend, Li Ji Fu were waiting for us. We walked to the Golden sand beach that had huge mansion belonging to Chinese actor Wang Dao. Nearby was the Qindao eye, a large Ferris wheel. After spending some time at the Golden sand beach, we went to the Silver sand beach by taxi. Silver sand beach is much bigger and there is the five Star Hotel, Wyndham Grand on the shore. It was getting close to lunch time. We asked Kelly if she could take us to an Indian restaurant. We took a taxi to the Indian restaurant. The restaurant seemed to be very popular and had five Indian chefs. The food was delicious. From there we went to the hotel and checked out. Kelly helped us to get a taxi to the airport, making a deal with the driver to show us the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, which is the longest sea bridge (26.7 km) in the world. It is an engineering marvel and was an amazing sight. We stopped on the way to take pictures.
We had to spend many hours in the airport as the flight got delayed for four hours. There was no communication and no one seemed to bother. We were wondering how we could have reacted back home in such a situation.
Qingdao is a beautiful place and is a great getaway. I feel that it would be even better in the springtime. Also going with a guide might have helped us to explore the first part better.