Today would be a day of basking in the sun, and floating in the waves. Today was to be a beach day, but like most things in China, making it to the beach proved to be more of a journey then expected. We were back in Qingdao, the European-esque costal town, home of China’s most famous brand of beer. Situated in the same hostel we’d stayed at last visit, that was built from an old observatory, we were excited to look down on the city from the bar’s large outdoor patio. We’d been in China for a few months short of a year at this point, and so we were less apt to search out the Chinese flavours of the city, and more inclined to enjoy the luxury of a western style breakfast from our hostel.
Our directions to the beach came from the woman at the front desk “Yesterday two girls go there,” she said in reference to Golden Beach, which is where she was recommending. “They were from England. They said it was very beautiful, and the come back red.” She told us to take bus 2, 3 or 5 from the hospital and wrote out the beach name and bus stop we would want to get off at. We thanked her and set off for our relaxing beach day.
Our first clue that the directions were not quite what they should be came when we noticed that the stop on our piece of paper wasn’t listed on the number five bus route. A helpful local told us where to get off, so we really weren’t worried. Our second hit should have come when our “stop” hadn’t been very far down the road at all.
I had been under the impression that Golden Beach would be outside the city, but where the bus had dropped us wasn’t far from the water pagoda and walkway (which is only a 20ish min walk from the hostel). Regardless we headed to the water. There was a beach, relatively large as it was low tide. More people were on the sand then in the water, but there were a few head bobbing here and there, and some kids playing in the waves (lots of them were naked).
We were hot and anxious to get into the water, though it’s cleanliness was questionable. We were told the dirty outhouses was going to cost 60 RMB ($10)! We crossed the road to McDonald’s and changed there for free. In the end the crowded patch of sand was not appealing enough to us, and we were certain we had not found the correct beach. Instead we went in search of the correct bus to take us to Golden Beach.
We found ourselves clutching our piece of paper in front of the bus schedule at the bus stop trying to figure out which route would take us where we wanted to go. Fortunately we found two girls trying to make it to the same area. We had to take the 1,2 or 5 channel bus under the water!
It was a very crowded and hot bus ride. The ride took much longer then expected, but finally we made it to our stop! We got off the bus. We were on a wide tree lined road that felt a bit in the middle of no where. There was a woman sitting in the bushes by the bus stop. We showed her our paper, with the name of the beach. She said something about 1st street and pointed down the road the way we had come. We crossed the road and started walking, but when we asked another lady for directions she pointed the opposite way! Finally we gave up and waved down a cab. Good thing we did because we were no where near the Golden Beach, the driver took us almost all the way back to the tunnel!
Finally we were there! We had made it! We could hear the sound of people on the beach, could smell the salt water in the air. We began walking down a long concrete path. It was lined with booths selling various pieces of beach wear and sand toys. The noise of the beach was all around us, yet it seemed to be taking forever to get to the end of the path. Ice cream helped.
It was a far cry from some of the gorgeous beaches we have in the Americas, but it was big, and it was nice to be out of town. We were immediately approached by a man who tried to rent us an umbrella for 80 RMB an hour! Just down the beach we found a woman who rented us one for 50 RMB for the day. Funny thing was she brought us right back to the place where the man was still hanging out trying to scam other beach goers.
Finally we made it to the water. The Chinese people around us seemed to think we were funny. Maybe it was Nate’s hairy ginger chest, or the fact that he catapulted me into the air, and then tried to jump over my head. We bought instant noodles for lunch from a stand on the beach and learned a neat new trick, stab the fork into the lid to keep it in place until your noodles soften!
Disgusting discovery of the day: just under the first layer of sand is a solid layer of cigarette butts! Found this out while running my fingers through the sand…
Back at the hostel we found ourselves still damp and smelling of a faint fishy sea water odour, sitting on the balcony munching on all you can eat/drink burgers and beer. This is how we welcomed in Canada day in at midnight.