After visiting the PLA Navy Museum I strolled around the beaches of Qingdao. the walk itself is similar (both in distance and general atmosphere) to walking from the CBD to Mission Bay in Auckland.
There is a lot of German-colonial era architecture, and as waterfront property goes, I bet it is some of the most expensive in China!
Stretching 500m out into Qingdao Bay is the Zhan Qiao pier. At the end of the pier is The Huilan Ge pavilion. You will recognise this as the "unofficial Symbol" of Qingdao since it features prominently on the Tsingtao beer label. Interestingly it was built in the 1930s, 27 odd years after the city's eponymous beer began to be brewed!
Walking down the pier out into the bay was a bit of a nightmare - China's teeming masses were out in force on a reasonably sunny, not unpleasantly hot Saturday afternoon.
500 metres, out into the bay, the heat and the crowds were starting to get to me so after snapping a few pictures for posterity, I quickly turned around and made my way back to shore, and eventually back to the hotel. (Via McDonalds for that Filet-o-Fish).
By night the waterfront changes pace, with fewer people over all, but with plenty of things for them to do. Families out enjoying the balmy summer evening are treated to all sorts of activities along the waterfront.
Fog? Haze? Pollution? A bit murky on Saturday night in Qingdao
Qingdao hosted the Olympic sailing regatta in 2008. The Yellow Sea, boating and of course fishing, have played a major par in the area's economy for literally thousands of years. For an Aucklander, who hasn't seen the City of Sails in a couple of years, shots like this, reminiscent of any of Auckland's marinas, can make a chap a little homesick.
On a side note, this (and a number of the other night time shots in this post) were taken using my Olympus Pen EP-1, but with a Minolta 37mm f1.4 lens. The lens is a beautiful, fast piece of glass, albeit a little heavy. Unfortunately the LCD on the back of the Pen is not the greatest, and so it is very difficult to focus the big metal cased lens, despite the aperture being all the way open. Combine that with the haze and I have to say, s much as I was looking forward to using it (It was the only other lens I brought other than the Pen's stock 17mm pancake) it turned out to be more hassle than it was worth. The subsequent shots in this post are interesting, but by no means my best work.
Walking further along the waterfront I came across this dude playing a Yangqin.
The Yangqin is a stringed instrument that is pretty cool, with the player hammering away at the strings with two mallets. People will often call it a "traditional" Chinese instrument, but this is not totally correct. According to The Book of Knowledge, the Yangqin probably found its way from Iran to China via Portuguese traders as the Dulcimer is a fairly common instrument in an area stretching from Eastern Europe through to Iran. Alternative theories suggest that it happened the other way round. Who knows?
At any rate, this particular performer was extraordinary to watch, and against my better judgement I forked over some cash, when usually I pay little heed to the demands of buskers and pan handlers.
There is a dodgy phone camera video I took here.
On the way to May 4th Square kite sellers showed their wares by stringing kites together and sending them up into the air. Despite the troubles I was having with the 37mm, I really like this shot, the light and haze combining to make this weird looking shot taken by standing behind a short old Chinese lady selling her kites:
May 4th Square (Wusi Guangchang/五四广场) (Actually a rectangle) celebrates the May 4th 1919 demonstrations (and subsequent movement) against Japanese imperialism, particularly important because Japan had been awarded control of Shandong (the province in which Qingdao sits) after German spheres of influence were parcelled out after the Treaty of Versailles. (There being a particularly strong German influence in Qingdao for instance, e.g. the Tsingtao Brewery).
At the center of the square is a giant Red sculpture called The May Wind:
With the 37mm big objects like these 8 foot tall Chinese characters do look like they are strangely small, like they were part of a model or a diorama rather than the front of the square:
And tht was my Saturday night in Qingdao.