This week we are becoming more accustomed to the Qingdao way. People speak somewhat aggressively, yet they are not angry, and taxi drivers are absolutely insane, but they have to be to survive Qingdao traffic and drivers (anyone who has complained about Miami, Venezuelan, Middle-Eastern, or any other drivers MUST come to Qingdao and see what it really means to be nuts on the road!).
We met a group of students from Arizona State University and joined them for a birthday dinner at a Mediterranean place called Lisa’s.
The menu was in English and the staff spoke English. We were a bit jarred since we have been interacting (or trying to, at least!) in Chinese and deciphering Chinese menus, which is a lot of fun and very helpful to our learning. We did like the “Happy Call” button. You press it and instantly a server appears to cater to your needs.
This is the only place I’ve seen that has a button, but the service in Qingdao is phenomenal everywhere. Restaurants hire numerous servers to work each table, and in most places your cup of tea is refilled before you can even set it down on the table after drinking a sip.
This week we also had our first Chinese martial arts class. We will be learning Taiji (Tai Chi). This class was about defensive moves if someone grabs your shirt or arm. The moves are very subtle but carry a surprising amount of force with relatively low effort. It is very interesting how Taiji teaches you to use the opponent’s force against him rather than your own.
As for our culinary adventures, we tried a place near the University where they made awesome teppanyaki. This place has private rooms enclosed in beautifully decorated sliding panels, and a personal chef who cooks the food at the table. Think of Benihana in private rooms with your very own complete wait staff. The service here is twenty times as amazing as anywhere we’ve eaten thus far. They really emphasize hospitality in Chinese culture, and I love it!
Side note: On one of my breaks from Chinese language class I was roaming around the hallways and look at whom I found! Dr. Mandakovic!
On Saturday the school organized a field trip to the Qingdao Municipal Museum. It was a great building, filled with rooms and rooms of interesting bits of Chinese and Qingdao culture and history.
We saw beautiful samples of Chinese painting, calligraphy and pottery, among other things. They also had a lot of German artifacts from the time when Germany occupied Qingdao (and we have them to thank for yummy Tsingtao beer!). My favorite part was the exhibition on Chinese money. It showed its evolution from spade-shaped to knife-shaped to round-shaped—and every shape in between.
They also displayed the molds used to make coins, some bronze, some clay.
That night we continued in our quest to try all the cuisines in Qingdao, and it took us to a German restaurant! We had delicious German beer and food. It was strange like Lisa’s in that the wait staff here also spoke English well, and we were given regular flatware instead of the chopsticks we have become so accustomed to using. It was a lovely experience either way. Surprisingly, it is the only German restaurant in Qingdao, even though it was occupied by Germany for about sixteen years.
This week we also found a new bar we like, LPG. The night we went there was a French guitar player/singer/songwriter named Frederick playing a live set of popular songs (in many languages). It was very entertaining, and he was very good with his guitar. He even walked around the place and climbed onto the bar while playing, without missing a single chord.
At LPG we met Beau, one of FIU IMBA’s students who came to the study abroad program in Qingdao University last year. We spoke for a while and he recounted his experiences, and told us he chose to remain in Qingdao and accepted a job at Hisense, a huge electronics and consumer goods company. The next day we ran into him again at The Diner, an American-food restaurant in the May 4th Square area. We had a lovely brunch, full of the American fare we have not eaten in over two weeks (four for me! Not that I miss it . . . Chinese food is fantastic).
After brunch we walked around the Square and found a large floor fountain. I couldn’t resist the urge and pranced around within, getting soaked in the process. It was a pretty hot day, so it was a very nice way to cool off.
And finally for this week, we found a Mexican restaurant, TJ’s!
With Corona beer that had a Chinese label that we cannot yet read 🙂 but we will soon!
View all articles by Deborah Zinn.