Jiaonan - Part I
After experiencing new year in Qingdao, I got an opportunity to see another, smaller city in china - visiting some of my family members who lives there.
So my sunday, after sleeping late, started by finding my way to ferry port. That wasn’t too difficult, as I had port name in chinese and all I just needed to do was taking a taxi, but luckily for me I had a chinese friend with me who took me to the port (so I managed to skip trying to get taxi driver to understand me). Taxi left us in the small junction that was full of taxis and small mopeds, it looked at first really interesting and totally at the wrong place but quickly I spotted the road signs above that showed that we were indeed in the right port. So following signs we walked a short distance to the port, which was weird as I was already so used to that taxi drivers like drive you in front of doors almost always. Buying ticket was surprisingly easy, I had again destination name in chinese but I tried to pronounce it at the desk and for my huge surprise she understood me right away and gave me ticket (of course after I handed money).
And then we encountered first problem as it wasn’t clear at all where to go next. There was a long line in front of doors, but I had no idea when my ferry was supposed to leave and where to go. At this point my chinese friend came really handy as she was able to ask some help from other passenger and we quickly learned that I just need wait in front of one door that had my destination name written above (which I noticed at that point). Easy when you know :)
Ferry trip itself didn’t have any surprises, it was as you can imagine ferry to be. Although it was my first time taking one-hour ferry across the sea, it was still a ferry. And for my surprise other passengers didn’t looked me at all, at least I didn’t notice at all that, even though I was then only westerners onboard.
After one hour trip I arrived to Jiaonan port where my family members were picking me up. First we drove from port through the city to one bigger park next to sea. During the driving I saw the first impression of smaller chinese city and that was just amazing, I couldn’t even imagine before how much they are building new apartments everywhere. Even smaller cities, lots of building sites. I saw one block where they were building ten new apartment buildings, I have no idea how many floors they were going to have. The park was beautiful even if it was winter time and practically the whole park was dead. It was very popular place, specially during summer, for wedding couples to take their wedding photos, my brother got his wedding photos there as well, and despite winter time we saw couple couples taking their wedding photos. We were there at the right time for me as I was able to see sunset.
After park we were heading to my guests home but during the driving we stopped to seafood market. Which meant a small road between some fields full of tables and people behind tables selling all kind of seafood, it was full of fishes, clams, grabs, who knows what. Nothing so special in there but it was nice to see local market. And it’s nice way also to know that at least some of the sold goods were fresh as they were still swimming in small buckets :)
From the market we went to my guides home which meant for me to see first time chinese home. I don’t know what I expected, nothing much actually, but the chinese home felt much like any other home I’ve seen, even in Finland. But as in good chinese way, I got offered good Chinese tea while waiting for dinner time, and as I was nice english speaking foreigner, it meant that family’s daughter had nice opportunity to practice english and chatted with me.
And then the dinner… That is most amazing dinner that I have had so far. It ended up to be good seafood hot-pot dinner in nearby hotel restaurant and including lots of relatives. It was really nice to meet all of them and what surprised me is that everybody were so warm and welcoming, even that we didn’t have common language to talk. But it was really nice and I felt that I was really welcome to family. And the food… First, I think I have never seen so much food on the table at once (expect our christmas dinners), that was a lot of all kind of clams, seashells, fish, meat, everything. I don’t even know what I was eating some of time, I do remember though that meat was of course really good and tasted as good as always, but my favorite ended up to be clams called in local name ‘kala’, which is funny as ‘kala’ means fish in finnish language. But they were small and tasty clams.
One of more exotic and more difficult thing to eat was a whole big octopus. It was still alive when waitress put it in to hotpot, but quite soon it was ready go eat. Have to admit, I had some troubles to eat it at first as it was surprisingly heavy to hold with chopsticks. Eating octopuses and squids had though nothing new for me as I have eaten those in korea already, but eating that size of octopus was something new. In korea they usually come as chopped versions (as all food here). But good thing was that I liked it, specially as I ended up to having two of those in my hotpot… After a dinner I was so full that last time i’ve eaten so much has been only in christmas. But I definitely know now why seafood in Qingdao is so famous, it is really tasty and good.
After dinner we went back to home where quite soon after we arrived their neighbor came to visit with his son. As I quickly learned, his son also wanted to practice English speaking, so once again I had fun time to chat little bit in English :) and I got little bit feeling of being superstar.