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Ker-Qingdao

Earlier on I was at a beach – romantically named No. 6 Bathing Beach, according to my map. That’s where I had a Big Mac and a coffee. The beach was quite nice. With all the high-rise buildings behind it, it was very reminiscent of Haeundae and similar beaches in Busan. At the land end of Zhanqiao Pier, there were some rocks and rockpools that reminded me of the north Wales of my childhood, as did certain aspects of the beach front – the wall and railings behind the beach, for example.

After my coffee and my previous blog post, I got some headache pills. I went into a chemist and the women working there shook their heads when I asked for Tylenol or paracetamol. I pointed at my head and they picked up on what I wanted. They showed me a couple of boxes of pills, one of which, amongst the Chinese, mentioned Ibuprofen in English – so I bought that.

I took a taxi next. I asked to go to Zhanshan Temple, but the woman driving – and who spoke reasonably good English, and who looked a little like Oona King – took me instead to the TV Tower. After experiences in India, I’m wary of taxi drivers, but it seems like she just wanted me to experience more of the city. Before she would let me pay her, she wanted me to buy tickets for the TV Tower (50 yuan) and the ‘Cableway for Tourists’ (60 yuan), which latter would take me to the temple.

It was dusk by the time I ascended the tower – the attendants inside were mostly young women who spoke English hesitantly and rather cutely. The view was decent. It didn’t move me as much as such things would have done in the past – or even a few weeks ago when I went to N Seoul Tower with Habiba and her brother. On the way out of the open air observation deck I noticed a gallery of other notable towers, and noted which ones I’d been to, or indeed up.

The cableway was basically a ski-lift – a rickety old ski-lift – not really worth £6, but whatever. A short walk from the base, took me to Zhanshan Temple. The ticket kiosk was closed, but the place was apparently open, so I walked in, as did a trickle of Chinese visitors. There were workmen doing construction work. As I headed into one particular section of the temple, a middle-aged monk in saffron robes shoed me and other tourists out.

The architecture was generally similar to Korean temple design, but, where Korean temples are multicoloured with a preponderance of green, this one was mostly blue with a lot of gold.

After that, I walked down to the seafront with the intention of finding the May Fourth Square. The Fourth of May is the anniversary of an uprising around the end of the First World War that led to the May Fourth Movement – an important moment in the rise of communism in China. It’s also the anniversary of my birth – so I had to go and have a look. It was dark by the time I got there, but the monument, apparently representing the May wind, was illuminated – it’s a big red roundish thing.

Along the seafront nearby, I bought three big, wooden, six-sided dice. They don’t have numbers on – two of them have Chinese characters, the third has sexual positions. I’ll have to use it with Habiba when I return to Korea.

After that I walked towards the local government building and noticed a coffee shop called Coffee Spark – ‘the coffee meeting spot’ – which is where I am now, drinking coffee, writing this, contemplating the prospect of dinner, a Halloween party at the hostel, taking the train to Beijing tomorrow and meeting Habiba’s friend Charlie.

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