Ever since I arrived in China I’ve wanted to visit Qingdao, and finally got the opportunity this past weekend when I decided to skip my Monday class and go with my friend Serena for a little bit of a vacation.

Qingdao was a German colony for about twenty years during the early 1900’s, and despite having a relatively short period of control, Qingdao retains many aspects of German culture, the most famous of which being Tsingtao beer (pronounced the same way as Qingdao), which is the most famous beer in China and I believe the only that’s exported, or at least the only one worth exporting.

Qingdao is also an historically important city in China, both in ancient and modern times.  It’s coastal location has always made it an important and desirable sea port.  Qingdao, as well as the rest of Shandong, was given to the Japanese as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI, which ignited a nationalist movement in China known as the May 4th Movement, a critical turning point in modern Chinese politics and history.  Check out the wiki article on Qingdao for a more in depth understanding.

The former German Governor's Mansion in Qingdao, not all it's built up to be in the guidebook, but a perfect example of the German architecture still present in the Qingdao Old Town.

Shifu explains how one eats starfish (not a fan, but at least I tried it!) while a plethora of other sea dwelling creepy crawlies are on display at a sea side cafe.

Oysters!!! I think if I had to I could probably live on seafood alone, and Qingdao has no shortage.

Ahh, fresh air! It's been stifling hot in Liaocheng recently, and what with all the dust and pollution, Qingdao was a welcome respite.

The Qingdao lifestyle is a far cry from that of Liaocheng. The warm summer air coupled with the cool breeze that floats in from the ocean makes for a wonderfully refreshing change of pace.  Serena and I spent our weekend cruising around the city on rented bikes, consuming beer and oysters by the seashore, and simply loving life.  I plan to come back to China and teach English after I graduate college, and I’ve always assumed that I would go back to Kunming in Yunnan province, but my short time in Qingdao has brought that assumption into question.  I might even go as far to say that Qingdao is my new favorite Chinese city, and the small taste of life here has made the prospect of a whole month in Liaocheng hard to swallow.  But in the end I realize the value of being able to make a life for myself in Liaocheng, where I am forced not only to speak and read Chinese to survive,  I  can’t help but feel a wee bit of pride in my ability to do so.  Afterall, I suppose that that’s what this journey of mine is all about, leaping out of my comfort zone just to see if I can make it out alive.