The bullet train slid to halt on Qingdao station. The doors hissed open, ever so lightly, and we found ourselves back in the Beer Capital of China. We had five days of scouting ahead of us, but not today. Today, we were promised a Qingdao welcome – which means beer, white wine and seafood.
Qingdao is a weird mix between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, a city for hedonists. Everything happens here half the speed of Beijing, and the distances are huge, so much of the time goes sitting in cars while going from one location to another. Another interesting thing I’ve found out about China is that there is basically no kind of bar culture. People drink what they drink over dinner, but afterwards, there’s not the “let’s go have a drink at a bar” -phase anymore. Basically, everyone goes to bed and is awake at the next day, bright and early.
Our Qingdao welcome was again in this rather seedy little restaurant. Waiting for us were three huge kegs full of Qingdao beer and a round table to be filled with seafood of all imaginable sorts: shellfish, crabs, shells… you name it. Arranged by mr. Zhu, the production manager, a man who loves to eat and have a drink, we were treated royally. As the evening progressed, me and Mika downed endless glasses for each crewmember’s honor, and continued to the adjacent room where the rest of the crew was dining. We got to know the Mongolian propmaster, a man of formidable stature and drinking habits; we got to talk more with our production designer – both of them, Gordon the actual production designer and mr. Wang, the art director, both of whom are great people, just as long as we forget the fact that we don’t really share a common language.
After the dinner we were driven to the hotel. This time, the production has treated us with rooms at this massive resort just by the sea. It took me forever to find my room from the 22nd floor, and as I entered, the room blew me away. A massive suite with a balcony overlooking directly at the sea. Having said that, the immense size of the establishment is just mindblowing. Whoever built this, wanted to create this area into a weirdly European-style resort. In front of the place, there’s a huge, interestingly designed “church” – or a wedding place, since although it resembles a church, it definitely isn’t one (this is, remember, not a Christian country). Right behind the church is a huge German-style square, surrounded by European buildings, cafes and that sort of stuff, but it all looks more like a film set than a real square, since there’s hardly any businesses, everything is in prim shape and there’s no grime anywhere.
Coming back home, I listened to some Riki Sorsa (my new favorite, don’t ask me why, must be the longing for home) and tried to talk with Annika, but she was having a night out with her friend so instead I headed to bed, falling asleep listening to the waves crashing to the shore twenty-two floors below me.