The money thing is kind of like a postmortem version of Paypal, if you will. You burn the paper as a means of sending your forefathers and foremothers a little pocket change to use in the afterlife. Because, apparently, they don’t take American Express there. And you wouldn’t want to be without some spending cash in heaven as I hear the shopping there is really to die for. (Sorry. I’ll stop now.)As I had no tombs to sweep in China and school was canceled for three days for the holiday, I decided to honor my ancestors another way – by taking a trip. Because I like to burn my money a different way — namely, by charging airfare to my credit card.
I managed to coerce a friend into joining me, and we headed off for the coastal city of Qingdao. Located south of Beijing on the Shandong Peninsula, Qingdao is home to a number of pretty beaches and the Tsingtao Beer Brewery.
It turns out that we weren’t the only ones who decided to honor our ancestors by booking a beachy, beer-filled vacation. Qingdao was positively packed during the three days that we were there.
Despite the blustery, chilly weather, the beaches and boardwalks were swarming with Chinese tourists determined to make the most out of their holiday.
Which, of course, meant posing for photos.
And wearing his and hers matching hoodies.
Children in full-on winter gear collected seashells and played in the sand.
And a few hardy souls showed up in skimpy Speedos to play beach volleyball and brave the freezing water.
And, then, there was this lady, who wore what appeared to be a nylon ski mask the entire time. We suspect she must have been a Power Ranger. Because, really, think about it, there’s no other logical explanation for this, is there?The main reason I wanted to go to Qingdao, though, was not to visit the beaches, but to go to the Tsingtao Brewery and Beer Museum. You know, for my ancestors.
You see, I doubt my ancestors were exactly the beach-going types. I come from a long line of Midwestern farmers. Last time I checked, there wasn’t a whole lot of beachfront property in Indiana.
Besides, if I am any indication of what my forebears looked like, they must have been a sturdy lot, prone to being suspicious of Spandex. I highly doubt any of them would have eagerly embraced a chance to break out their Speedos.But, I do have a feeling my ancestors were big fans of beer. That is if my ancestors were anything like my current family members.
The last time I went back to the Midwest for a family reunion, my cousins had set up a wet bar in my grandmother’s basement, and they were serving mojitos. So, yeah, I’d say it’s safe to say my ancestors probably imbibed a few.On the day we visited The Beer Museum, it also happened to be packed full of tourists – mostly large tour groups. Probably also intent on honoring their ancestors by taking photos of themselves in front of the beer-shaped fountain.
The museum featured displays about the history of Tsingtao Beer Company as well as some dusty old equipment and posters detailing how beer is made.
And lots of rather somber looking wax figures doing somber looking beer making stuff.
Frankly, I can’t say I paid that much attention to all the displays because, hey, who really wants to learn stuff while on vacation?
Honestly, I’d rather just believe my beer was manufactured by magical elves and fairies. And, apparently, according to the fine people at the Tsingtao Beer Museum, I’m really not that far off the mark.
Besides, I imagine all that museumy stuff would have been of little interest to my ancestors. They probably had a lot of fields to plow and cows to milk or something. They didn’t have time to waste looking at wort collecting troughs. I mean, seriously, who has that kind of time?
So I kind of just walked through the museum as quickly as possible, so I could get to the part where they serve you free beer and peanuts.After visiting the Beer Museum, my friend and I decided to hit up the Qingdao Wine Museum.
Again, for the ancestors.
And because it happened to be right down the street from the Beer Museum.
This museum also had an abundance of rather somber-looking wax figures.
Except, because there wasn’t a whole lot of English signage in the museum, I’m not entirely sure what any of these wax figures had to do with wine.
Unfortunately, I don’t think my ancestors would have been as impressed by the Wine Museum. If only because the free glass of wine they serve you at the end of the tour was pretty bad. Like, so bad it made the bag of “strawberry flavor corn curls” taste kind of good.When my friend and I weren’t visiting alcohol-inspired museums or hanging out on the beach taking photos of Power Rangers, we were eating.
Again, for the ancestors. Because I have a feeling my ancestors probably really liked to eat.
Plus, it’s hard not to eat in Qingdao as the food was pretty amazing.
I mean, the food in all the Chinese cities I’ve been to so far has been pretty amazing, but Qingdao has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in this country. Seriously, how the fine people of Qingdao even fit into their Speedos, I will never know because I’m pretty certain I gained ten pounds in the three days I was there.
There was, of course, your usual selection of delicious Chinese street food, like stuff on sticks and steamed buns.
There was a bevy of seafood – everything from sea urchin to starfish.
While I can’t say I’m much of a sea urchin or starfish fan, I did have some grilled oysters and some octopus, both of which was really delicious.
There were even a few unexpected food surprises, as well. One morning, I chanced upon a group of men selling slices of this thing:
Packed full of nuts, dried fruit and honey, it was like one big, delicious granola bar. I accidentally bought, like, two pounds of the stuff, and have been gnawing on it ever since.
And, then, there were all these little bakery stalls selling cream puffs, which tasted like heaven and happy thoughts.
I really probably should have set some of those cream puffs on fire to send them to my ancestors in the afterlife — just like how they do with the paper money. I think they really would have appreciated that.
But, as it was, I was too busy shoving them into my face.
It’s possible I ate, like, twenty of them in one sitting.
I’m sure my ancestors would have been really proud of me.
And, then, they would probably have told me to go plow a field or something.Have you ever traveled somewhere just to go to one specific museum or place of interest?