Mt. Laoshan is one of the major tourist attractions in the area, located on the outskirts of Qingdao. We had a lot of trouble getting a taxi driver to not only understand where we were asking to go, but also wanting to take us there when he/she knew where we wanted to go. Similar to most countries in the world, different areas in China have different accents or dialects, in this case, a different accent (We would find out later in Shanghai, that they speak a very different dialect of Mandarin, making some of our Chinese we learned in Beijing useless, but I’ll save that for when I get to Shanghai). Once we got a taxi driver to agree to take us to Laoshan, it was about a 40 minute drive to the gate of the park. Along the way, you could really get a sense of the timeline of development in the city progressing from ancient chinese, to European influence, to a modern business center, to again local (more ancient) style outside of the city. A few of these images are taken from the cab at very HIGH speeds (we had a crazy driver that day, as you sometimes find over here).
Typical Residential High Rise is the Tsingtao Area
Modern Business Center, Performing Arts Center
Outside of the City Featuring a More Local Style
We were dropped off at the gate of the park, paid our admission fee, and then got onto a bus that took us into the park. We made a stop and a few passengers got off, so we followed thinking this is where everyone got off, only to see the bus drive off a few minutes later when we were taking pictures. We tried not to panic, make the best of the situation and start to look around. We were able to locate a sign, pinpoint where we were and started to make our way up the mountain.
Stopped for a Picture of the Water
Getting a Little Shade from a Tree with a Nice View
At the Base of the Mountain, Ready to Start the Climb
As made our way, we came across great features of Chinese architecture and culture. There were a few small houses displaying the famous Chinese curved roof form. This is shaped in this way not only to shed water off the building, but the curved surface generates speed to ensure that water is projected away from the house. You constintly walked past rocks with inscriptions in them, but since I was having a hard enough time with my Chinese, I decided these characters said something like, you are almost there, or it’s just around THIS corner. Just before we reached our first destination along the trail, we found another small house and terraced garden. The residents were growing tea leaves and selling to passersby.
Looking Back to Where We Started
Terraced Tea Garden
After about a 45 minute climb, we reached a paved road. After a short water break, and got up and began to walk down the road towards a large stone framed gate. Just past the gate was an amazing overlook to the East side of the park, again showing terraced gardens that led to a small village at the base of the mountain. After a few pictures, we found another map, and decided to continue up the mountain. There was a chair lift at this point that would take you to the top of the mountain, and because it was so hot, we wanted to take the lift to the top and walk down. So we located a trail that we thought led to the chair lift. We ended up walking directly underneath the chair lift for 15 minutes before we realized that you probably had to take this form the base of the mountain, instead of the halfway point.
Framed Stone Gate
Overlook of Terraced Gardens and Small Village
I wish that we had been counting steps from the beginning of the climb because after we made it to the top, I know the final number would have been something ridiculous. After seeing people casually stroll off the chair lift, I’m happy we were unable to find it, as I think we appreciated the view a lot more than those who did not make the climb. At the top, there was a Chinese couple that sold cold beer for less than $1, so we couldn’t refuse that with the nice view that we had earned.
Steps and Inscriptions
Steps, Steps, Some Flat Parts, and More Steps
View From the Top#1
View From the Top#2
View From the Top#3
Cold Beer, Peanuts, and View
We took a different route on our way back down to see a waterfall we found on the map. Along the way, we passed some laborers building a small masonry structure. It is amazing to see the differences in construction means and methods in a country like China, especially in such an isolated area like Mt. Laoshan. They were using bamboo as scaffolding and tieing them off to surrounding trees. It was getting late and the sun was getting low as we reached the river, waterfall, and dam. There was one slight problem to the final stop because it had been so hot lately, that the area was in a bit of a drought, so the river was dried up except for a few puddles, the waterfall was more like a leaky faucet, and the water in the dam was very low. You can imagine if the conditions were right, this would be a pretty spectacular area, so we were a little disappointed with the result, but with that being said, it was a still great day and I would have to say that this was the best day that I have had in China up to this point.
Small Masonry Structure Construction
Sun Getting Low
Another Garden in a Small Clearing
What Would Have Been an Amazing Waterfall
Water in the Dam Getting Low