Leaving Great Walls and grandiose Palaces behind us we were saying farewell to China’s capital. We were speeding through the countryside to our next destination. Qingdao.
Have you heard of it? I will admit, I hadn’t. However, if you said, ‘Tsingtao’ then yes. Yes. I have heard of it… In some hazy-drunken-staring-up-from-the-bar-room-floor memory. I like that beer.
Well, Qingdao is Tsingtao. It is the home of the eponymous beer.
Qingdao itself is, quite literally, a breath of fresh air. Situated on China’s east coast in Shandong province, its skies are gloriously clear of the unwavering pollution that hangs in the skies over the rest of China.
It is also a breath of fresh air, figuratively, in its ambience and architecture. Unlike the rest of China, dominated by tiled roofs and mythic symbolism alongside skyrise tower blocks and mass urbanisation; Qingdao sits like an out of place Germanic vista.
It is its Germanic history that has compelled Qingdao in such a different direction to other Chinese cities. The city itself was taken by the Germans in 1898 and was ceded to them for 99 years, in retribution for the murder of two missionaries. I hear.
And then the Germans did what they do best. Built a brewery and started, well… Brewing. And so the infamous Tsingtao was born.
And so we did the cultural bit. We wandered through empty halls – we were pretty much the only tourists – looked at old brewing machinery, read the history of the brewery and about beer itself. Whilst not particularly thrilling, it certainly makes one thirsty!
Then, unlike any other brewery I have visited, we rounded a corner and were suddenly gazing at the production line of today’s beer.
Bottles and cans whizzed beneath us like little people late for work. They were spun, washed, filled with beer, turned upside down, capped, shaken, lifted, lowered, packed and sealed… And more. It was an incredible scene to see. And as each little can (or bottle) passed under our eyes, my tongue lashed out to lick my lips… I was really thirsty! I wonder why?
We found ourselves in the bar. Convenient. A couple of free beers later, our whistles wetted, but our beer lust far from satisfied we were out on the streets searching for more.
I had heard that the people of Qingdao are afforded a special way in which they are allowed to consume their city’s beer. I wanted to try it. You see, when in Qingdao you can drink beer from… Actually. Just look at the pictures below. It will explain all…
So. Please sir, can I have some more? 😉