Saturday, June 18, 2016

Planning the Qingdao Holiday

In early March this year my travel bug started itching me so I started looking for a holiday to spend. It has to be not too far away as well as a place I think both my wife and I would like. Plus it has to be during the 2 weeks June school break so that our grandkids can be temporarily handed back to their parents. I found Qingdao and the Shandong province in China to be a nice place to tour. It isn't a very popular tourist destination but was highly recommended by some American travelers. I checked a few travel agencies that sell this package and found only a few offering it - Reliance, GTT, Summit Holiday, Malaysia Harmony, and Eden Tours. Only Eden Tour depart during the school holiday and best of all it is also the cheapest. However it can only move if they can secure booking of at least 10 travelers. It took awhile for this to be met and I kept my options opened to go another destination. Thankfully on April 27 I was informed that the tour group size has crossed 10. By the time we depart on June 4 we have 18 members which is a decent and manageable number for the tour manager to handle.

Samantha Soh is our tour leader. Strangely this holiday didn't excite me as much as previous holidays. Maybe I'm beginning to like being home bound since starting my gardening project in May this year. There are several nursery plants that I am anxious about in my absence but someone has been entrusted to look after them while we're away.

Qingdao will be the fourth, and possibly the last China holiday destination for us. We went to Beijing, Shanghai and Guilin before. Qingdao is special because of its European influence having come under the German occupation from 1898 to 1914. After that it came under the Japanese occupation for a period before the Chinese government retook the city which was reconquered by the Japanese in 1938. However in 1949 it was recaptured by the Chinese government under Chairman Mao Zedong.

The mention of Qingdao will invoke the name of Tsingtao Beer which was founded in 1903 by the German settlers. Today it is the second largest brewery in China but internationally it is very well known. The other event which made Qingdao well known is that it hosted the 2008 Olympic Sailing competitions in conjunction with the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The other landmark whuch makes Qingdao famous is that the world's longest sea bridge, the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, links the main urban area of Qingdao with Huangdao district, straddling the Jiaozhou Bay sea areas. Although Qingdao city is modern and clean it has kept a number of German styled buildings, including a cathedral and the former German governor's mansion preserved.

Of course the holiday is not only about Qingdao but what the province of Shadong has to offer. These will be described in greater details in the subsequent posts.

Our tour group at Da Ming Lake in Jinan city, Shandong.

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