In our free time, we have visited the seaside resort of Qingdao, and most recently, the provincial capital, Jinan. Jinan is known as the "City of Springs" and rightly so -- the city is blessed with dozens of natural springs gushing out of the water. Humans must have lived in this area for thousands of years. Therefore It's not surprising that all the springs and the surrounding lands are completely paved and decorated and tamed, as it were, unlike some of our British Columbia hot springs. Many of the springs are close together in a beautiful downtown park.
On our first morning, we meandered down bustling Lotus Street, a narrow traditional street famous for its market stalls. We sampled squid on a stick and drank cold lemony-water, and I tried the finely sliced tripe in peanut chili sauce. The sauce was delicious, the tripe was just meh. Also, there are way too many varieties of fried bread in Shandong province. We returned to Lotus Street the next day for breakfast.
We also saw some very high-end glitzy shopping malls and this particular building, left, that is..... well, if you see what I see I don't need to say anything and if you don't see what I see, that's fine too. Although, how the Jinan planning department didn't notice the effect in the architectural drawings is a mystery for the ages. Ross thinks the architect might have issues. Probably drives a Ferrari.
Later that day, we also met up with "Director John," the young director of the "Foreigners in Shandong" TV show I was involved with. As I told Ross, I understand why I find this young fellow interesting, but I can't imagine why the feeling is mutual for him. Maybe the young people are just being polite. You practically have to beat them to get them to stop trying to pay for everything.
John took us to a bar with an outdoor patio. He's a Zibo native as well, so I was pleased to see all the young people hitting it off and chatting away about their home town while Ross and I rested after a long day on our feet. Later we listened to some live music, including the Chinese version of "The End of the World" (Why does the sun go on shining?") Then Director John, who only drank soda water, but insisted on paying the bar tab for the evening, dropped us off at our hotel which had the finest and most complete collection of free toiletries it has ever been my pleasure to stuff into an overnight bag.
We might return to Jinan in the fall to tackle sacred Mount Tai (by cable car, alas, not hiking) and or Ten Thousand Buddha mountain, thought I think Ross saw enough Buddhas in Thailand to last a lifetime.
Below left: at the entrance to Lake Danming. It's trendy in Asia for boyfriend and girlfriend to wear matching clothes. Maybe Ross and I will go to a tailor. Middle, Director John at the pool table. The bar was beautiful with bamboo groves and neon lights but we couldn't take good photos of it. Below right: I hope that Ross will find someone to go fishing with in the near future, like this fellow enjoying a quiet afternoon at the canal.