It’s Sunday in Qingdao and the winter months are here, which means only one thing, coffee shops!
Take your book, your laptop, your friends with you and head to the old town where Huangxian Lu lies filled with many niche cafes, museums, crafts and micro breweries.
As an avid supporter (some may say dependent) of the caffeinated drink, I have made it my duty to try a new coffee shop every Sunday.
By Chinese standards this street is ‘hipster’, many young Chinese will dress up for the occasion and ultimately a photo shoot in the colourfully decorated street. Take some time to browse the little shops dotted in between the cafés which sell bits of art décor as well as (you guessed it) old vinyls!
Below are just a few cafes I have stumbled upon, but go and explore yourself and discover your own favourite spot!
The Cat Café.
Address: 48 Daxue Rd
Yes, there are cats! And lots of them too! The coffee and chocolate cake are not bad either. Very cosy set-up with many feline friends to cuddle up too. A great place to go if you’re missing your pet back at home!
The Giraffe Café.
Address: On the Corner of Huangxian Lu/Daxue Lu
The giraffe-patterned pole outside gives it it’s status and has been the subject of many Instagram Posts. Very sweet décor inside, clean and the coffee is good!
The Witch Café.
Next to the Giraffe coffee lies a café filled with lamps, European-style paintings and old-fashioned furniture. The 4 small rooms, 2 up, 2 down decorated with pumpkins and Halloween references, gives the café a charismatic vibe. With free wifi and friendly staff, it is a great place to sit down and work.
The Old Cinema Café.
Address: 14 Huangxian Lu
A little bit bigger than the other cafes which makes it great for social study groups. Otherwise, just take a coffee and enjoy watching the silent films.
There are more than coffee shops around!
The Residence of Lao She.
Address: 12 Huangxian Lu
Lao She, a famous author lived on this street where he wrote some of China’s most famous literature, such as Camel Xiangzi. His house has been opened as a quaint museum and I would recommend having a look (It’s free ;))! The residents of Qingdao are very proud!
YOWO – The Leather Shop.
Address: 35 Huangxian Lu
This is a very cute workshop, where you can learn how to work with leather and make homemade gifts for yourself or family. Really interesting experience especially if you are one for design and crafts.
Strong Ale Works – Brewery.
Address: 12 Daxue Lu
This micro brewery is friendly, cozy, has a lovely ambiance, and most of all, beers are, though not exactly cheap by Chinese standards, amazing! A beer-lover’s must-see!
Lots of us foreigners get home sick when we arrive in China. We miss the everyday things, things you get in the supermarket and local shops. Having read Sebastian’s blog on the Chengdu’s wine/foods fair last week, for Germans it’s beer and whiskey! For the french, Cheese and wine and for us Brits a decent cup of tea/coffee, and maybe a bickie on the side. So, I would like to say a few words on the subject and some of the new changes I think overlay China’s new cultural impetus.
With China’s continued economic expansion and the raising of living standards, many small business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs have decided to import foreign products. Not just the standard foreign food and drink/luxury items that you see in Carrefour/TrustMart/Ito Yokado. But also niche products, such as random selections of German supermarket beers or British Dark Chocolate, French Cognac etc. This is perhaps one of the best ways of showing China’s new cultural linkages with its western counterparts. Similarly, it is a stark contrast to the China of 10/20 years ago.
Many foreigners in China bare witness to the countless nouveau-riche, with their children studying abroad and their Gucci Iphone cases. For this upper class money is but numbers on a piece of paper, prices and telephone numbers are one in the same. Yet, the rise of imported niche products evidences China’s rising middle class. Where increased incomes have fueled a quest to understand foreign cultures not just for monetary gain. Even students from less privileged backgrounds, who have enjoyed their generation’s increased access to education are now taking risks to start up small coffee shops or bars. Not just catering to foreigners, but also providing their generation with better access to new ideas/new concepts for their own character and society’s development. I’m always surprised when I hear a Chinese local mention their love of IPA ale or their love of After Eights. Of course you still get locals who mix Lafayette with Sprite or give you attention seeking glances as they smoke Dunhill Cigarettes in the lift, but their is a sense of change in the air.
For me personally, greater access to different types of coffee has been fantastic. Having lived, studied and now am interning in China I have long abandoned my desire for a decent cup of tea. The teabags are not the problem, the problem lies with China’s fledgling dairy industry and a Chinese preference for Soy Milk. So fresh milk can be hard to come by and is usually fatty. Anyway back to the point……My friend recently opened a Coffee shop, selling 25 different types of coffee beans. Importing beans straight from central and South America as well as North Africa he is a quintessential example of someone trying something different. Moreover, small businesses like his who rely on great personal interest from their owners are a pleasure to visit. The minute you walk in, you really feel welcome. Unlike some places in Beijing, where you order a latte after 10 am and the Chinese/Italian sea-turtle* behind gives you a look of disgust! You should know that, reputation is important for Chinese people, but sometimes image is even more important. Eating sichuanese food in IKEA instead of eating it in the local mama and papa shops and having Louis Vuitton patterned car mats backs up your blowing cows*. So for me, access to a variety of different coffee without a pretentious owners has been bliss!
I think the point I’m trying to make is that, China is not just changing what it eats and what it drinks to look fancy, of course that is still widespread. Rather, China’s attitude towards increased cultural exchange is changing, especially for younger generations. Current economic trajectory may be creating a tiered society, but at least increased awareness of foreign concepts and ideas is reducing friction for everyday conversation, everyday living etc. There is a hopeful sense that the miasma of pretentiousness surrounding imported goods is slowly being sucked out.
China is becoming more and more livable for westerners, so for all of you interns are thinking of coming here…… know that the longer you spend in China the more you will experience increased ease of access to the things you miss from back home! Hope that helps!
Apply now for an internship, experience the real China!
sea-turtle – 海龜 – refers to a Chinese national who has studied abroad and is now back in China.
blowing-cows – 吹牛 – literally translates as blow (v) and cow (n) but it means to brag or talk big about oneself.
When I traveled to China I was only allowed to take a suitcase no heavier than 21 kg with me and a hand luggage of 5 kg. For guys, no problem. For girls, “What the heck am I gonna take with me?? *completely desperate*”. For my trip to Korea last year I took half my closet – which was not a good idea because shopping there is just SO awesome: underground market here (mostly at the metro stations), street market there, shopping e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e!
So before I started my journey to China I thought deeply about what to take with me. What is really necessary? What can I buy there? I asked some of my Chinese friends, they told me that shopping is really nice and affordable in China. So I made up my mind and only packed what I really needed. I ended up with exactly 21.2 kg for my suitcase and 5.7 kg for my hand luggage (including my laptop which is exempt from the check-in’s weight restrictions). Still I had a bad feeling about it. What if I forget something? I checked my packing list at least ten times and asked friends to read it through and tell me if they thought I had forgotten anything.
Now I’ve been in Zhuhai for one and a half months and I am glad I didn’t bring more. In the underground market you can find whatever you need, to dress for whatever event; clothes, shoes, underwear, make-up, jewelry, nail polish, accessories… and much more. You can even go for a manicure and pedicure. For food, there are a lot of different restaurants, and if you dare you can get a tattoo. The best thing is, everything is so cheap. <3
So what’s the catch? Actually, there are quite a few catches. But the drawbacks depends on your body measurements etc. The worst catch I guess, is that most clothes they offer are all one size. If you are too tall you will have problems finding fitting clothes. Also often you are not allowed to try on the clothes you intend to purchase. You can only guess if they will fit and if they suit you well. Also having shoe size 40 (EU)/9 (US) or bigger as a woman it may be hard to find fitting shoes. A final catch is that you usually cannot pay by credit card in the underground or on the street market, cash is king.
The worst catch for me? Too much choice! I could spend days and hundreds of Euros in these shops. Last weekend I spent around three hours in the Zhuhai underground market – close to the Macau border. Because of my company I was forced to keep it to a minimum. I ended up with 5 new dresses, a pair of shoes, 2 trousers and just a bit less than 500 RMB poorer (58 EUR/80 USD). Yes, girls, already feeling the need to jump off your chair and come over?
In the end I will eventually have another problem, I guess… How will I ever be able to take all those clothes back home with me? Well, I did some thinking about that and my solution is: I will have to fly business class, as I’m allowed double the amount of luggage and having a comfortable seat on the plane. Sounds good to me. I could also just buy another suitcase, but … after saving so much money shopping here I think it is okay to spend some more on the flight. 😀
Oh, one more thing. Don’t forget to find yourself a suitable shopping mate. Nothing is better than spending a day in the underground together: clothes hunting, bargaining with broken Chinese-English, giggling about strange people and gossiping, sipping coffee, eating sushi, going for manicures or pedicures (or both), and afterwards going to the Spa to relax from the exhausting day to feel fresh again. Ready to enjoy the nightlife in your new clothes.
I think I need to go shopping again next weekend. Writing this blog made me hungry for more…
See you and 再见，
Gianna aka Gini aka 吉娜
With May Fourth Square, Marina City, Qingdao’s Old Town, Ba Da Guan district and the shopping streets Part one of places to show your friends during their visit in Qingdao was all about Qingdao’s Culture and nice places where you can spend all your money on beautiful things. But Qingdao has a lot more to offer. With its location surrounded by the sea and mountains you and your friends should definitely escape the city for some days to discover the nice area around Qingdao.
Qingdao is located right on the base of Fushan. A mountain range with an area of 7.5 square kilometres. The main and highest peak is in Qingdao with a height of 384 meters. There are no roads but instead natural trails, meadows and pine trees that guarantee a nice hiking tour to the top. Once you made your way up you will be rewarded with a great view over the city of Qingdao, the sea and the beautiful costal area. Best time to go is definitely in the evening to watch the sunset on top of the city. There is even a little shack shop run by a friendly elderly couple selling snickers and beer… amazing.
Bigger, further away and with lots of culture to offer, you should take a whole day to experience Laoshan. It is the highest costal mountain in China with the peak reaching 1132 meters. But Laoshan has more to offer than just a long hiking tour with a marvellous natural scenery of seas and waterfalls. It is said to be one of the birth places of Taoism and thus a mountain of high significance for the Chinese culture. With lots of Taoist temples and nunneries Mount Laoshan offers more cultural experiences than one could possibly place on one day.
After hiking up two mountains it might be nice to grant your visitors a little rest. Best way to relax in Qingdao is definitely a day at the beach. Since Qingdao has 6 bathing beaches the decision which one to show is not that easy. One of my favourite beaches is Shilaoren beach. It is the biggest beach and outside of the city center. The second one that should not be missed is bathing beach number 2 next to the Ba Da Guan District.
Best way to discover both, spend the day at Shi Lao Ren beach and watch the sunset near bathing beach No 1.
In case that is a little too much nature for your friends, take them out for a drink to Minjiang Er Lu – Coffee Street.
With comfy kitsch coffee places next to Italian restaurants and wine bars the coffee street will be the perfect place for your friends to relax after hiking up two hills and discovering Qingdao’s seaside.
During Chinese New Year I moved from Qingdao to Chengdu and took with me: my cat Paula (big thanks to my colleagues who helped me through all the paperwork to take her on an airplane!) and my Chinese colleague Leo (also well-known as MacGyver amongst the InternChina community!).
Both arrived safely and helped me to feel like at home from the first day on. Our mission is to set up a new office for InternChina and to welcome as many students from all over the world as soon as possible. Chengdu is a fascinating city and offers plenty of opportunities for career seekers or those who just want to get a first idea of this enormously growing country and their economy. Also for those, who are culturally interested in China, Chengdu has a lot to offer: Daoist and Buddhist temples in and around Chengdu, religious mountains and multiple Chinese ethnicities living in the city make the exploration of Chengdu a big adventure.
Even though the last weeks were busy with finding a good office location and settling down, I tried to stroll around the city and discover places for you which might be interesting when you come to Chengdu the first time in your life.
So, I started my tour with strolling around in Jing Li Ancient Street. This is a place where you can find traditional Chinese architecture blending in with the modern world of consumption. A fascinating place where you can buy Chinese souvenirs for your friends and family at home or try different exotic Chinese snacks. Right next to this street, there is the more than 300 years old Wu Hou Temple, which is a huge area including a bonsai tree garden and the perfect place to escape the bustling city life. Entrance fee is 60 RMB, but worth to pay, if you like to hang out in a peaceful place and discover the beauty of Zen gardens. Not far from the temple you can find the Tibetan streets, where you can see typical restaurants and shops for all religious equipment (like incense sticks, incense vessels and holders as well as praying pillows) can be found. People are friendly here and speak English, so you can easily purchase some Buddhist goods or clothes.
After my tour through Wuhou district, I felt really hungry and as I love to cook at home, I wanted to try another supermarket than Carrefour to buy groceries. So, I went to Raffles City, which is a very new Shopping Center in Chengdu (see picture), where you can easily get lost within all the shops and even in the supermarket, which turned out to be a labyrinth. However, they offer very good fresh meat and fresh sea fish, which usually is not possible in a city so far away from the sea. Also, one of the 36 Starbucks in Chengdu can be found here, so if you are thirsty for a good coffee in Chengdu, there is always a place to go.
Finally, I also tried a few Western and Chinese restaurants in Chengdu and I easily can say you can get food from all over the world here: I already had potato salad as my grandma used to make it, original Spanish Tapas along with a cheesecake cream dessert, Tex-Mex and Indian food, as well as fried goose from Hongkong, steamed shrimps dumplings (Cantonese) and of course all different kinds of hotpots!
As you can see, Chengdu is a city which is easy to explore and of course, if you come here for an internship you could discover the city with our InternChina team together!
We like to have our coffee and donuts in the office… It’s a special treat when we get donuts. Believe it or not in the building next to ours there is a place that sells donuts. For more information on coming to Qingdao through Intern China Click Here!