Road Trip China Part 2 – The Sites

Little guy throwing up a peace sign

Going through pictures from this past week, it’s amazing how much we managed to pack in with only two non-travel days of a five-day vacation. The first leg of our road trip brought us to Yāntái, a third-tier coastal city located about 746 km (463 miles) from Beijing. Our first full day was mostly spent meandering down Yāntái’s boardwalk in the sun, beer in hand, followed by a bit of flash tourism involving the local wine museum and lighthouse. Along the way we held spontaneous photo shoots with locals, ate delicious banana/ice cream crepes and flew a kite. Although we were immediately turned away by the wine museum for our tardy arrival, Dave managed to convinced the gate keeper and every wine booth vendor to take pity on “his” tour group, resulting in our warm welcome complete with trays of free wine and brandy. But we couldn’t stay too long – the lighthouse’s closing time was fast approaching, as was sunset, so we literally ran across the city center, through Yāntái’s Hill Park and up six flights of stairs to the top of the lighthouse for an amazing view just as the sun was setting. That night we roamed bar street and met one of the few Americans living in the city: a small town Texan, working on a team of foreigners constructing oil rigs.

Yāntái’s wine museum

The next day we drove north to visit the Pénglái Pavilion, which turned out to be one of our favorite official historic sites in China. Stone city walls create a path leading up to the Pavilion, which is perched on a cliff overlooking rocky beaches and fishermen. According to Chinese lore, the Pavilion marks the site of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea, a mythological story of the legendary eight Taoist immortals who crossed the ocean using only their divine powers. At the Pavilion, we visited the various enclosed temples, walked on the beach and got lost in the surrounding area’s beautiful gardens. Our reward for a long day of hiking and enlightenment – a trip to KFC and a three-hour drive to Qīngdǎo.

Weighing kilo bags of Tsingtao

We arrived in the home of China’s most popular beer (Tsingtao) just in time to enjoy a tremendous dinner of skewered barbeque squid, chicken, potato, eggplant, lamb and spiced bread. The rest of the night was spent hopping from bar to bar enjoying Qīngdǎo’s famous bags-o-beer, sold on the street by the kilo and half kilo. That night, Greg and I scored the last room available at our hostel, which unfortunately was their public DVD-viewing room. Needless to say, that was an adventure all on its own, which happily ended the following day when a real room opened up.

On our last non-travel day, we took in the city’s German architecture (left from the country’s 16-year occupation of the once fishing village) on our way to the Huílán Pavilion, a pagoda-type building featured on every bottle of Tsingtao. And then we finally made it to Chinese beer Mecca – the Tsingtao museum and brewery. The museum “had us at hello” with a welcoming map indicating China is located on the North American eastern seaboard. The best part of the brewery was a glassed-in bridge overlooking the bottling and packaging process, not to mention the beer tasting.

All in all, the trip was a unique tour of new and interesting cities, two of which are rarely visited by foreigners, through a means of transportation rarely used by foreigners.

And now we’re back in Beijing enjoying a seven-day work week and a 500 reading on the Air Quality Index – yikes.

Map of China (Picture by Chelsea Eakin)

Map of China (Picture by Chelsea Eakin)

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