Despite living in Qingdao for 3 months now, I hadn’t actually made it to Laoshan during that time. I’d climbed Fushan, since it is conveniently located 15 minutes from my house, however Laoshan was always a failed trip- somebody was sick, the weather was bad, we would wait until there were more interns… well all the excuses finished when Kristin visited from the Zhuhai office.
We decided late on Friday that we’d like to climb Laoshan that Sunday in an effort to tick one more thing off Kristin’s list of things to do in Qingdao. We didn’t plan the trip particularly well, as usually the interns plan a route, a meeting point and organise a guide, but despite the freezing weather we were up and on the 104 bus to Laoshan at 10 am. We had no idea where to get off the bus, or how long we should be on the bus for, but we settled in for the hour long journey with our wasabi flavoured dried peas and a rather off-putting piece of corn on the cob.
We arrived at the visitor center and got our bus tickets, where we then boarded a bus where we felt slightly out of place in our trainers and hoodies, as everyone else seemed to be dressed for a day at work in suits and high heels. We found three people at the back of the bus similarly kitted out to us (complete with hiking boots and backpacks) and so reassured that we were on the right bus after all, we allowed ourselves to be excited again- especially as the weather had decided to change to sunny and warm despite being the middle of December.
20 minutes later we were at Laoshan, and were met with an amazing sea view surrounded by huge mountains… beside a KFC. Not what we were expecting! But when the KFC is surrounded by trees, a temple, the ocean and a mountain range that stretches farther than the eye can see, you soon forget it is even there. We didn’t have a planned route, so we aimlessly made our way past trees branded with QR codes and took in the scenery, which suited us just fine. There was no pressure to follow a route or stick to a plan, so we were free to explore the mountains as we wished and we took our time climbing the steps we decided to follow.
We made our way to a flat, empty expanse of space with only a lone cyclist and his camera for company. While the view was amazing, we didn’t want to stay there all day, so after some poor attempts to translate a sign, we realised we had come the completely wrong direction and made our way back the way we came. We followed more stairs cut into the mountain, which led us to this breathtaking view…
We decided to walk up the mountain loosely in the direction of the cable car, and after witnessing some unique snacks for sale and attempting to explore a river, we found the tea fields. We met one man very eager to tell us all about the tea fields, and understandably so because they were beautiful! I realised how high up we must have been at this point, as the tea on Laoshan is only grown after a certain altitude to stop the plans being damaged by insects. We also stumbled across a dog guarding a temple. We went into the temple and stayed there for a while before heading back down the mountain. The next scenic site we saw was a bridge filled with love locks, and a huge waterfall, which was simply beautiful.
We continued with our aimless wandering past the huge lake and waterfall, and eventually ended up in the car park we needed to get the bus home from. I had been told our last bus home was at 4 pm, and since we didn’t want to pay for an hour long taxi ride back to Qingdao we decided to rush back to make the last bus.
Despite our poor planning and “see how it goes” attitude, we got to explore a lot of Laoshan. There is simply too much to see in one, two or three trips, but we saw beautiful views, amazing structures and the unique touches the modern world has added to this ancient mountain.
If you want to explore Laoshan for yourself, apply now!