Experiencing a new, unique side to China

Experiencing a new, unique side to China

Underwater World Aquarium
The past two days our group stayed in Qingdao, a very interesting city with a ton of history and the cleanest air I’ve inhaled since landing in China.

The Germans and the Japanese both occupied Qingdao at one point in time, evident by the cultural diversity and the immense difference in architectural style.

In 2009, Qingdao was named “the most livable city in China.” That fact came as little surprise since it was definitely my favorite place I’ve visited by far.

First, we stopped at May 4th Square, where we had an hour to shop at small vendors along the ocean-side “boardwalk.” The gigantic red sculpture in the middle of the square and the countless kites flying above won me over almost instantaneously.

Across the water I spotted five Olympic rings, a remembrance of the 2008 Olympic Games’ water sports held in those same waters I was standing in front of. I always watch the Olympics but have never been able to get so close to where the action happens.

I looked out over the ocean and pictured boats racing by and a grand announcer signaling the winners to the sandy shore. “Wow,” I thought to myself.

It felt so good to feel the breeze and smell the salt water. It almost felt like home although the Qingdao beaches were still very different than the ones I’m usually spoiled with. As beautiful as the small harbor was, there was still trash and random debris outlining the shoreline as far as my eyes could see — something very typical here in China.

Quickly, our time at May 4th Square was over, and we were off to an array of different tourist hot spots with our tour guide. One by one we trickled out of the bus, only to return in the short amount of time we were allotted.

Ariana Winder We visited: the famous Qingdao Pier, some of the oldest European houses in the city, the Governor’s House Museum, the Underwater World Aquarium and the Tsingtao Beer Brewery and Museum.

Nothing quite stood out like the aquarium. I really enjoyed seeing all the animals elegantly swimming over my head or watching the experienced scuba diver meander through the coral and fish to do some tank tiding.

Again, I tried to imagine what it would be like being that scuba diver. The grand finale at the aquarium — something I have never seen in an American aquarium — was a mermaid show played to the Titanic theme song. For nearly 10 minutes, colorful mermaids swam from side to side of a huge aquarium decked out in full costume, accompanied by mammoth stingrays.

It was a sight to see.

All in all, my trip to Qingdao was the most unique experience I’ve had in China thus far. It was filled with new sides of the country I had never seen before, and it gave me a new take on the diversity that China has to offer.

Beijing is our last big stop before heading home ,so I look forward to seeing what side of China I will see next.