Warning- this may be a bit wordy since a lot has happened and I didn’t have a chance to write for a while,and the laundry has been piling up! Well we got back safely from Chengdu all chuffed at the new contract etc. and immediately started to plan the rest of the time we have here in China before we leave for Israel. THis may sound a bit weird but we felt that we needed a bit of a holiday and since I had wanted to see Qingdao,the seaside place made famous by beer, beaches,Germans and the 2008 Olympics we decided to head off there for a bit of relaxation. WE were originally going to take a boat from there over to South Korea across the Yellow Sea but decided it was too much, added to which the weather forecast there gave rain and more rain, and then the University here said that we were not supposed to leave before July or we would not be paid for June and July. So we thought we would take it easy, spend a few days in Qingdao walking along the beach and so on and then come back to Lin’an to pack up and hopefully spend a few days shopping in Shanghai before we get to Eretz Israel.
WE took a bus to Shanghai from Lin’an,spent the night at our old friend the Asset Hotel, and then bought train tickets from Shanghai to Qingdao. The train is the fast one which does the huge distance in only 6.5 hours and can reach a speed of 320 kilometres per hour. Actually it only went up to 307 but believe me that was FAST. This journey was really comfortable,but it was also more expensive than the plane we discovered AFTER we had already bought our tickets. Due to our crappy Chinese the lady sold us first class tickets.but we weren’t sorry as the trip was so incredibly smooth and comfortable.
We were offered three different places to stay in Qingdao,one with a couple called Pia and Gareth from Couchsurfing,one with Andrea also couchsurfing and a third Chinese guy. We didn’t want to impose on anyone and had never slept at a couchsurfers’ place before so we fixed only 2 nights with Pia and Gareth and then took a cheapo hotel for another 4 nights. We had a lovely time with Pia and Gareth,who are a young couple-she is from the US and he is from Ireland. We found much to talk about with them and they kindly hosted us and showed us round some places in the city, the night market and the old part of the city with its German buildings. We also went on our own to the Qingdao Brewery built by the Germans in 1903 and we took a sailing boat on the sea with a Chinese couple and their kid.
In the evening we went twice to Beer Street which is a street full of bars and restaurants selling typically Qingdao beer (which some people carry away in plastic bags!) and lots of seafood. There are also people singing and playing guitars and it is generally a lot of fun there.
We also had dinner one evening with Andrea, a teacher from Texas who I met from Couchsurfing and exchanged teaching experiences.It was very pleasant,and she said she might come visit us here in Lin’an to look around ZAFU.
On the Saturday morning as we were leaving Pia and Gareth’s place we chanced upon a Chinese wedding which was just beginning outside their apartment so we stayed to watch and take photos. It was great to see the dancing and the dragon and lion costumes, the drummers and canons shooting confetti over the bride and groom.There were also people breathing fire! It was great.
We also took a ride up the top of the TV tower to see a view of the city but unfortunately it was very cloudy so we didn’t see much. All in all we enjoyed the trip immensely and had a good rest and some sea breeze and flew back to Lin’an to pack up and get our heads round the idea of returning to Israel in a couple of weeks.