Below are some of my favourite photos I took during my family trips to Shandong in China over the past few years. Instead of concentrating on scenic views and famous buildings or landmarks, I chose to show some of the pictures centred around lifestyle and living; particularly from those of my wife’s extended family in Qingdao and Rushan in the province of Shandong. Shangdong, itself, has a population of over 90 million which gives some scale to the population of China compared to my home of Australia. There are also a few photos of our trip to Tai Shan, a must-see destination to see in the province (if you can handle the thousands of steps to get to the top temples!).
Temple Gate at Taishan
After climbing hundreds and hundreds of steps up Mt Taishan, we came across many beautiful temples nestled in the clouds high up on the mountainside.
Classic Building Needing Some Repair
Still functioning building (Qingdao Badminton Swimming Sports Management Centre), off Tailiu Road, built some decades ago which, no doubt, will be replaced by more modern premises. Preservation of architecture from this era may not be popular in China at this time, but it may be worth keeping some of these buildings for heritage reasons. We thought we could take our 2-year old son for a swim only to be told it was restricted for ages 5 and up.
City Skyline at Dusk
View from twenty-three floors up from my wife’s mother’s apartment looking towards Shangquan CBD in Qingdao. Air quality in China in many cities is poor due to pollution thus creating that perpetual hazy effect. Qingdao is not too bad if one compares it to the air quality of Beijing or Chongqing.
Qingdao’s Pagoda In The Sea
The most familiar symbol of Qingdao, the pagoda at the end of Zhan Bridge during a busy summer’s day.
Musicians near Qingdao Seafront
Musicians, tai chi groups and artists can be seen in the most unlikely of places. And they are not asking for money either.
Passengers waiting for a train in Qingdao
We were waiting for the high speed train (Gao Su) from Qingdao to Tai’an.
Road Traffic in Tai’an
Each year, more and more cars are replacing mopeds and bicycles. This was in 2012; however, I am sure that if we re-visited this year in 2017, the scene would be different again.
You Tiao for Breakfast
Otherwise known as Chinese Cruller or Fried Breadstick, you tiao is a delicious breakfast snack not too dissimilar to an unsweetened churro. This was taken in Tai’an before we ascended up the steps to Tai Shan.
Praying to Buddha
On the way up to the top of Tai Shan, we found many temples where pilgrims were burning incense and sticks to Buddha.
Enterprising individuals on the route to the top of Tai Shan were selling fans adorned with calligraphy.
The Way To The Top of Tai Shan
Although there are thousands of steps to climb, the route is always very interesting with many stops on the way including temples and vantage viewpoints.
Vendor Carrying Goods
Everything a vendor sells (or discards) on Tai Shan must be transported by foot. This gentleman is returning empty bottles and cans for recycling.
High-Speed Train Driver
Chinese high-speed railways are an engineering wonder. The train we took from Qingdao to Tai’an got up to 350 kph at some locations and it was smooth and very quiet in the cabin.
Boats in Weihai
Some old-looking boats at peace in a small quiet pond near the seaside of Weihai.
Technicians replacing lightbulbs on the Weihai esplanade. The ladder did not look particularly robust in my opinion!
The Great Gold Thumb
In the strange seaside town of Haiyang between Qingdao and Rushan, sits a great monument of a giant ‘thumbs up’. Haiyang is a strange mixture of a holiday resort and a new burgeoning business town with numerous odd-looking monuments and buildings. Haiyang suffers the fate of many Chinese cities whereby many of the apartment blocks visible from the roadside appear to be mostly empty.
Family on a Motorised Rickshaw
Taken in the seaside of town of Haiyang. No regulations here preventing riding in the back without a seat belt!
Enormous Pieces of Coal
Dangerously-loaded truck laden with oversized pieces of coal.
Competition Obstacle Course
In the resort of Darushan, near the town of Rushan, a televised competition was taking place where anyone can negotiate an obstacle course without falling into the water.
Apartment Blocks in Qingdao
My wife’s mother resides on the 23rd floor in one of these apartment blocks. Despite the exterior looking somewhat bleak and ordinary, many of the apartments we saw were beautifully laid out and built to a high standard.
Apartment Blocks in Rushan
Looking through the window of an apartment belonging to a friend of the family, we noted one of many almost-empty apartment blocks. One of the tell-tale signs of occupancy is the number of air-conditioning units visible on the exterior.
Qingdao Apartment Skyline
Photo looking north taken from an apartment near to my wife’s mother’s apartment off Tailiu Road in Qingdao, one can see the endless skyline of apartments.
Entrance Door Adornments
Typical ‘stuff’ you might encounter at an entrance to someone’s apartment.
San Shu and Husky
Known as San Shu to us (my father-in-law’s third sister’s husband), he proudly holds up his husky in his apartment in the town of Rushan.
Er Shu and Er Ma Offering Some Fruit
My father-in-law’s second sister’s husband and his wife offering us some fruit in their much older apartment in the centre of Rushan.
Yi Fu Looking Very Important
Known as Yi Fu to us, he is near to retirement in the police force in Rushan. This was taken on the rooftop of his apartment. Note the thermal solar energy cells for hot-water supply.
Our Wedding Banquet
Taken in 2012 in Qingdao, one of many exotic banquets we had to ‘endure’ through.
Small Family Banquet in Rushan
During this occasion, a smaller seafood banquet was given to us in one of the small local restaurants in Rushan.
The Wonderland Restaurant
Taken in an ultra-modern establishment in Qingdao, this type of cuisine is almost exclusive to Shandong whereby food is steamed (starting with seafood, then meat and then vegetables) and the resulting juices percolate into a delicious peppery soup broth laced with spices and bones.
The Famous Quanjude Duck Restaurant in Qingdao
What can be more satisfying than enjoying traditional Beijing duck?
Early Morning in the Village
Near my father-in-law’s house and plot of land is a small village on the outskirts of Rushan.
Traditional Village Alleyway
This is one of many typical poorer-style villages around the town of Rushan.
A Village Square
Each little village has a central gathering location along with its national flag.
Er Gu Fu and Husband
My father-in-law’s second sister and husband in their courtyard-style traditional home near the town of Rushan. This is probably one of the better photos I took in the ‘National Geographic’-style depicting typical life in a village home in China. Note the fu sign on the door (meaning Happiness), the ubiquitous clock, the Chinese news and, still, a picture of Mao on the wall.
An Old Resident of the Village
A rare picture of one of my wife’s grandmothers who sadly passed away a couple of years ago.
Newborn in the Village
One of my wife’s family friends from Weihai whose daughter recently gave birth.
Tending to the Pigs
One of my wife’s family members tending to their many pigs.
Younger Couple in the Village
The very popular ‘V’ sign once again!
House on the Factory Grounds
A good friend of the family lives in a small house by the gate of the factory along with her husband who, in return, looks after the factory grounds.
Typical Courtyard Village Home
Very typical layout of a house in the village. An arch under the roof (at right of photo) comprises the entrance. The main entrance leads to the main room and second bed, which is on an elevated platform known as a kang. To the right is the smaller family room with the another kang, often used as a place to eat and watch TV. The right wing of the house is the kitchen and pantry. Underneath the concrete steps to the left of the photo is the outhouse.
The Corn Harvest
Villagers hold harvested corn in large baskets which will be collected by machines which will strip the kernals off from the husks prior to sale.
A Typical Kang
A kang is an elevated wooden platform usually overlaid with a lino-type surface. It is heated from underneath by the adjoining kitchen flue. In the evenings, a low table is placed on the kang where the family can eat their meals. At night, blankets are placed on the kang to provide a heated bed for the night.
Kitchens are often quite basic in design; however, I have experienced some of the best food cooked in these kitchens.
The Kitchen Stove
Many kitchens I saw had a large hob heated by a wood fire underneath which also serves as heating for the house including providing hot water. A massive bowl over the fire can be used in a variety of ways to provide most of the cooking methods required to make some quite exotic foods indeed.
Cooking In the Kitchen
My wife with Er Gu Fu cooking some delicious food in the kitchen using a conventional modern stove.
Early Morning Harvesting
I caught a man in the village cutting away at the crops during the early morning.
Sunrise Near Rushan
Early morning sunrise over the fish ponds near the town of Rushan.
Growing Exotic Trees
My father-in-law (retired as a colonel from the Army) proudly points to one of his twisted trees in his new tree greenhouse. Along with his large collection of pine trees outside of the greenhouse, he sells these trees for a living. The more exotic trees like the twisted tree shown can fetch fairly high prices.
During the colder months, riders on mopeds often have blankets which fit over the handlebars. This was taken in the town of Rushan.
Falling Asleep on the Job
Tradesman selling a variety of vegetables along one of the shopping alleys in Rushan.
A Sad Occasion
My wife and mother-in-law pay their respects to the passing of my wife’s grandmother a couple of years ago. Little boy in blue is our 2-year old son. What is typically done is to buy a wad of fake money, some alcohol and other gifts. Then the money is burnt with incense while a bow is performed in front of the grave. It was dry and windy so I was there as the ‘fireman’ in case things got out-of-hand.
A Larger Detached House in the Countryside
What is not shown in the photograph is the building beyond the right-side of the photo which is a mirrored image of the building shown. This is my father-in-law’s country house near Rushan. What you see in the middle is, in fact, the enclosed courtyard, while on the outside is a forest of pine trees and crop fields.
Making Dumplings (Jiaozi)
Most everyone I know enjoys Chinese dumplings (jiaozi) and what better than to enjoy them on celebratory occasions. In this case, it was for our son’s second birthday. Making dumplings from scratch is quite time-consuming and hence, it is often a social occasion in itself. As you may have noticed, everyone is sitting on the heated kang.
Time for the Feast to Begin
My wife’s relatives sitting with me (third from the right) before we start tucking into the good food.
A Rare Mou Tai To Celebrate With
This is a 28-year old Mou Tai, which is the most famous brand of bai jiu, a notoriously-strong Chinese liquor having a somewhat herby taste. The Mou Tai can be seen in the bottom right cup in the photo and has developed a mature yellowish-greenish tinge. Although I find many bai jiu liquors a little harsh, this was amazingly smooth.
Audience at the Dolphin Show
I was actually more interested in the audience than the dolphin show at the Qingdao Ocean Park Resort.
What People Do To Their Dogs
What is it with the bib thing?
A Three-Wheeler in Qingdao
Reminds me of the Only Fools and Horses Trotter van!
Electrical Wire Chaos
You can almost imagine that these wires are growing organically out of the distribution box. Although chaotic, power outages are extremely rare in my experience, unlike those encountered in South Australia, where I live.
A Sense of Humour For Your Convenience
Not sure which is funnier; the over-accentuated positions or the fact that the women has pig-tails.