September 21, 2007


Qingdao, China.

This has been such a sharp contrast from the more posh port cities of Japan. The area right around the pier is poor – the kind of poverty where you can't tell if a neighborhood has been torn apart or just never built up at all. We took a taxi to the city center, where the Walmart is (yeah, Walmart in China..). The taxi ride (about 20 minutes) came to 20 yuan, or about $2.50. Walmart itself was a big lesson in globalization and cultural compare & contrast. Everything in our Walmarts is here, only it's manufactured here too, so the toy hummer that Jig bought his daughter was like $6 instead of $39.99. The frozen food section is open, frozen food, and where there are dried nuts and fruit there is also dried seafood (tonight some of the SAS staff made me try dried squid I almost died).

Something kind of simple and beautiful about Qingdao is that in the city center all of the buildings (apartment buildings mostly, with first floor shops) are painted with murals. Birds, people dancing, all seem to be designed by different artists. A very cool surprise in what is otherwise a relatively dirty and run down part of the city.

Spent the second/last day in Qingdao at the Zhanshan Buddhist Temple. There's a typhoon up in Shanghai so it was stormy, but we went exploring anyway. The temple is known for its Buddha of Healing, and there were various small temples all leading up to the biggest one. Everything in the temples is really bright, bordering on gaudy but still beautiful. We saw all of the monks gathering for prayer. It was crazy to watch these young kids, most around my age, knowing that they have dedicated themselves entirely to their religion. They wore the golden robes and while some wore the traditional footwear, most wore flip flops. One had on a really nice pair of Air Jordans. Such a cool juxtaposition.

After the temple the sun started coming out so we just walked through that part of the city. Interesting contrast of Japanese and German architecture. Found a restaurant that was.. well... No English – we communicated with a list of notes that she had with maybe 15 English words. Wound up with some really good spinach egg drop soup. It was the kind of restaurant where you could go over to tanks and pick out
your own seafood. Or silk worms. Whatever you're in the mood for.

One more day of sailing until we arrive in Hong Kong.



Anonymous said...

Hey Melissy

You make me feel as if I am there with you. You describe everything in beautiful detail.
The Temple must have been awesome - Thank you
Love, Mommy

Anonymous said...

I LOVE reading your blog!!! What an incredible experience!!! You are incredible!!!
Love, Bev

Anonymous said...

I didn't know how eloquent and captivating your writing was. Not surprising, since i hardly read...
These experiences seem so impactful and spiritual. Enjoy and I look forward to hearing first hand accounts when you get back. For now, live each day to it's fullest!
All my love

Anonymous said...

Missy, bev sent me to your blog.

Very interesting reading and better yet very worldy and exciting experience.
Enjoy as I know you will.

Take care of yourself.
Do not forget to go shopping of course should you have the time.
Warm Regards,
Marlene R.