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Day 15. Zibo to Qingdao

Friday, September 25, 2009 permalink [Permalink]

Today we take the high-speed train to Qingdao, the sea-side city where some of the 2000 Olympic events took place.

We had some time this morning to look around Zibo, not too far mind you, but enough to figure out that the streets just behind our hotel doubled as brothels; and the ladies working the beat certainly didn't make a secret of it.

Zibo - Behind the hotel
[Zibo - Behind the hotel]

We even had enough time for Bill to do his email.

Billy doing his mail - kiss kiss Margaret
[Billy doing his mail - kiss kiss Margaret]

By the time we got to the train station, it was clear that the day would go smoothly.  The train station was operated with military precision - from the ticket purchase, right down to how we lined up and then entered the train.  The train arrived at 11:36, 7 minutes prior to its scheduled departure time of 11:43.

High-Speed Bullet Train
[High-Speed Bullet Train]

The doors closed on the dot at 11:43 and we began to inch away.  Shortly thereafter the acceleration increased and it was hard to believe that the train was moving because there were practically no knocks or bumps; it was as if the world was speeding past this carnival ride.

It wasn't long before the information panel up above was scrolling to the top speed, 150 km, 180 km, 210 km and eventually hitting a top speed of 245 km.

245km per hour
[245km per hour]

When I compare where China is today in respect to its public transport, and knowing their plans for a massive expansion over the next 10 years, I'm ashamed that so many western countries shun this efficient and cost-effective mode of transport.

My ticket to Qingdao
[My ticket to Qingdao]

One hour and fifty six minutes later we arrived in Qingdao, a bustling green city on the edge of the sea.  We took the bike receipt and eventually found the cargo office - the bikes survived without any issues and with our bags back on the rack we were in search of a place to stay.

Our plan was to stick close to the water, hoping that this would make getting out of the city easier the following day, but the cost of hotels in the centre proved to be ridiculous and we pushed on North-East along the coast.

Not sure what's stranger, the contraption or the threds
[Not sure what's stranger, the contraptions or the clothing]

Eventually we came across the remnants of the 2000 Olympic Games; it was here that the sailing championships took place and the waterfront did reflect the effort spent, perhaps on par with Beijing, in order to convey the message that China is a titan once again.

Olympic Rings in Qingdao
[Olympic Rings in Qingdao]

The streets were busy and after 16 km of cycling we decided to check the prices of the hotels.  We were lucky, Bill managed to get friendly with a local woman (Rose) who spoke some English.  She took us to a hotel just off the main road and opposite a huge bookshop.  It wasn't ideal, but it had clean rooms and a computer with free internet in each room.  Having spent the night before in the stone village, needless to say I was getting itchy fingers and wanted to fire off some mails - needless to say I was sold on the room.

The many days on the road take their toll on the body, and I had spotted a massage shop nearby - the others didn't want to go thinking that it was a cover for another 2nd floor establishment that Dave had a run-in with previously.  It looked legitimate from the start, with set fees and it was clear to see that if elderly women were amongst its clientele it couldn't be that bad.

People walking

I ordered the full Thai massage and was placed in a room with a rail over the top - obviously so the masseur could hold on to it while they walked all over my exhausted body.  Shortly thereafter, a woman half my size appeared at the door, handed me some pyjamas, and told me to change.  She came back two minutes later with a towel and asked me to lie down.

Conversation didn't go so well because neither could find common language to communicate with, but as her small hands worked my sore muscles I let my groans and grunts inform her of where the problem areas were.

In case you need a massage in Qingdao
[In case you need a massage in Qingdao]

As I'd suspected, there was no hanky-panky at this establishment and I emerged out of there a new man, able to twist and turn and even touch my toes again - my body soon forgetting the punishing cycling of days gone by.  Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night.

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