I arrived in Qingdao about three weeks ago, and already time is flying by. So here’s a short update on what I’ve been up to.
On my very first morning I was picked up at my apartment at 7:30am by my lab mate ‘Ma’ or in English, otherwise known as ‘Jackie Chan’. He was my escort to the lab canteen where I sampled my first Chinese meal. Needless to say the first phrase I have learnt in China is Chi fan (to eat). I think this says a lot about how my time in China will be spent.
Then I was taken to my desk post for the next 6 months.
I was swiftly shown around the lab to see the umpteen tanks and flasks all holding sporophytes and gametophytes of China’s most important cultivated algae species; Laminaria, Macrocystis, Porphyra and Sargassum to name but a few.
After a few days I was taken to what was told was a small seaweed farm. The common method for students to travel in research is to take the bus, so we spent an hour on multiple buses carrying expensive sampling equipment.
After the bus adventures we arrived at Yangkou Bay villiage, a quaint Chinese fishing village with contrasting occupants of just a few crusty fisherman and scores of art student who apparently flock to the mountainous Laoshan area to make scenic oil paintings. Here there were long lines of Gracilaria and recently coppiced Undaria. We took out a small wooden boat into the bay with two local farmers as long line guides.
It’s not all been straight to work, I’ve made friends with fellow lab colleagues who took me to see the quiet (in Chinese terms) old streets of Qingdao. These streets were built by German designers who occupied the city from 1898-1914 because of its importance as a fortified port. Here there were tree lined streets and dozens of brides and grooms to be! It is a more recent tradition for the bride and groom to take pictures before the wedding, for guests to buy and for the couple to showcase on the big day. As these streets are lined with beautiful blossom laden trees it seems to be a hot spot, so many brides and grooms jockeyed for positions under trees and in open grass areas, which are few and far between.
The following weekend I visited Qingdao International Horticulture Expo, which was my first experience of construction speed and development in China. Here, what I can only describe as buildings resembling that of a sci-fi movie have been propped up under the mountains, in what used to be rich farmland. This vast exposition ranging just under 2km2 was built in the last 6 months and will only exist from April-October 2014, after which most of it will be destroyed, and I’m told by the locals will likely be sold to expand the surrounding industrial parks.
I will sign out with the view from my apartment, officially the tallest building I have ever lived in. I live on the 14th floor, however this is called the 16th floor. After my first trip in the lift I realized that the floors 13 & 14 didn’t exist on the list of stops. As I had read, the Chinese hold lucky numbers in high regard and seem to eliminate the unlucky ones where possible. Thus, my apparently unlucky 14th floor apartment will always be the 16th stop in the elevator.
More Qingdao Diaries to follow…