Is there any chance to find a piece of Europe in China? Is there such hope to find a truly organized city routine? Some might be quite skeptical about this, as this is China, one of the most densely-populated countries on Earth: chaotic in soul and noisy by heart.
When I was planning to visit China, I had the feeling that I was going to sink into insane chaos, blurred reality that would drown me unfaithfully. By that time, I was sure where I didn’t want to settle down, that was the chaotic capital Beijing. And the first Chinese city that attracted me from a distance was the coastal town Qingdao. Intuitively, I felt that Qingdao was a place I wanted to be, at least for some period in my life. It was the first city I wanted to visit in China, but it turned out to be the last and most fruitful one.
I was flirting with him, Qingdao, from a distance, and he was flirting back with me. While warning at the same time that the chances of finding a suitable job are not high there. Eventually, my intuition gave me the right answer that was already case #100, when it prompted me the correct answer. And in the end, I listened to her- the Power of my Intuition. Initially, I was offered a job in the South of China, and after long travels, a whisper in my heart took me to a little piece of Germany – the beautiful Qingdao. It was a late evening. Beautiful summer evening, a breezy air was playing with my hair and whispering in my ear: “Welcome! You have arrived at your final destination. Qingdao has been waiting for you for so long…” And I responded in a whisper: “XiXie- ??… or Thank you in Chinese! Thank you for embracing me in your arms. Let me see what lies beneath your German soul…”.
In fact, Qingdao or Tsingtao has grown fast, influenced by its German flavor. It has bloomed as a tourist resort due to its charming cityscapes, beautiful seaside, ornamental rooftops, and not least importantly, thanks to its beer called Tsingtao. For example, this sort of constructions around the city will remind you of its German influence:
There is a particular German corner in Qingdao, named German street or Guantao Strasse where you can see notes with old German letterings:
According to official sources, Guantao Strasse was built more than a hundred years ago, in 1899 as a colony of Germany. Presently, it is a 1-km long street, a site of interest located in Shibei district of Qingdao and presenting 25 historic buildings. Guantao Strasse or German Street was the economic center of Qingdao during the German colonization. Thanks to its commercial focus, it was called as Qingdao’s Wall Street. In this very Strasse, foreign investors from the US, UK, Japan, and Germany have founded around 50 international companies. Hence, no wonder why this little corner in Qingdao is attracting the Westerners till the present days. For example, here you may see a Hotel built not only in German but also in Norwegian style; or a bar merging various Western cultures. To have a glance or a more in-depth look at the German corner in Qingdao, you will need only one hour of your precious time.
Qingdao is famed as a Switzerland of the East, but I would rather assimilate it with a piece of Liechtenstein. The beautiful landscapes with green hills, winding alleyways, steep streets, and lanes resemble quite faithfully to a slice of the Principality of Liechtenstein. For a while, I had the feeling that I was in Liechtenstein, if not the Chinese shouting “Ni hao” (meaning, Hello in Chinese) and reminding me of where I indeed was at that very moment.
If you travel to Qingdao from another part of China, you can do so easily by train. The city possesses three Railway stations connecting with different Chinese cities, with the West Railway station as the newest one, and Qingdao Railway station as the central travel hub, built with a German architectural style.
The Beer Tsingtao or German Pilsner
Tsingtao beer is widely consumed all over China. Dating back to the year 1903, it also has its roots from Germany. Created by Anglo-German Company in Qingdao, it is brewed keeping the high standards and German technique. This way, the brewery has been able to import the Western-style drink, with all its nuances, to China. Not surprisingly, Tsingtao beer has won many awards as a high-quality beer.
Places of Interest in Qingdao
Settled beautifully on the East Coast of the Yellow Sea, it is no wonder that Qingdao appeals with the fleur of its seascapes. Many tourist sites are stretched over the coast in Qingdao, reminding us, once again, that the city was born from the soul of the Sea. If you walk five minutes from the May Fourth square, you will find the Music Square overlooking the beautiful bay area. This square serves as a seaside park and preserves monuments devoted to world-famous composers, like Beethoven (German by origin). Another proof of the German influence in Qingdao.
A bit further away, a tourist crowd or better said - a group of Chinese will bring you to the Olympic Sailing Centre. In 2008, during the Beijing Olympic Games, this place in Qingdao was the venue of the Sailing Regatta. Hence, it preserved its name as the Olympic Sailing Centre. When looking at the bay area in the evening, five illuminated Olympic rings will remind you of the designation of this place.
May Fourth Square is yet another tourist site; actually, this is a symbol of Qingdao city. The square owes its name to a cultural movement that began on May 4th in 1919 when German concessions and Qingdao were transferred to Japan instead of China. This act ignited huge discontents, and students in Beijing began demonstrations on this day. Presently, the May Fourth Square is a venue for youth events, gatherings, and a spot to have appointments with a guarantee not to get lost.
The Beer Museum could be of particular interest for beer lovers and merely those who want to get a taste of the history of Qingdao’s beer production.
When you get tired of the city’s bustle and hustle, go to Zhongshan Park. Unwind and recharge your mind rejoicing in the wonders of nature this park preserves. Every year in April and May, Zhongshan Park houses Cherry Blossom Festival, transforming it into a slice of natural heaven with its 500 meter-long Sakura Road. It is worth noting that Zhongshan Park was created while keeping Europeanization in mind and adding elements of European style landscape architecture.
So this was Qingdao- a piece of Germany in China. This city has gathered slices of delicacies from different corners of the Western world and presented in a purely fancy manner. Please excuse me China, but during my stay in Qingdao frequently, my memory would get blurred, and I would forget that I was in China. This is to say that Qingdao has done an outstanding job in composing its Asian soul, by adding Western characters and polishing it from within.