Shandong Province

In the Laoshan Mountains, Shandong Province, China

What I love about North East Asia is that it has four very distinct seasons. I haven’t been able to enjoy a summer in Qingdao for about three years, so this year I’m making the most of the blue skies (slightly rare in China these days unfortunately), lots of fresh fruit (right now watermelon, peaches, plums and apricots, yum!) and the greenery of the mountains. I LOVE the mountains around here, but I only usually get to see them when they’re in their winter browns, or dusted with a sheet of white snow. Beautiful nonetheless!

Today, although it was stinking hot, I jumped into my car and went to Mianhuacun (棉花村) which is about a 20 minute drive north-east from Xiazhuang, the area I live in. Mianhuacun, a more traditional, or rural Chinese village from earlier days of the Communist-era, but it is set in a nice lush valley, near a small reservoir which seems to have almost dried up in this heat. The people are friendly up there and can easy start up a chat with them. Or even better, buy their fruit! I spent about $10 on a bag peaches, apricots and plums, and munched on them on the drive back home. I will add some photos of the area here. It’s a good place to visit, because the best reason of all is no one really knows about it. You will never ever see another Western face up there. Or anyone who’s not local at least = the best way to travel! The beauty of having your own wheels when in another country is that you can get out and about and really get to know the country you’re in, and discover all those places that Lonely Planet and other travel guides have never even heard of - The only difficult thing with that in China is that they don’t recognize international driver’s licenses. Later I will post more about my road trips in China. They were amazing! Anyway, enjoy the photos from Mianhuacun!

 

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You might be overcome with joy after seeing this tree located in Xia Park in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, thinking that you may have discovered some secret martial arts techniques like the Wuxia novels have described. But unfortunately, they are simply some Tai Chi movements recently painted on the tree. The artwork was created by a group of designers after the gardeners at the park removed the decayed bark to restore the tree’s health.

Recording-breaking blooms of the algae Enteromorpha prolifera washed up on China’s beaches in Shandong province over the summer. It’s not toxic to people, but it is to other marine life, hogging most of the oxygen in the ecosystem and doing a fair amount of damage. (Source)

Li Qingzhao -- China’s Greatest Female Poet
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Li Qingzhao is known as like, China’s greatest poet, and even historians said so. Forrealz. Like, even historians like this dude – Hu Binqing said that her work was just as good as that of the privileged dudes who wrote shiz during that period of time.

She wrote poetry in two styles:

1. Ci, which was like set to music and shiz, and also
2. Shi, was was regular verse but it’s pretty hard to find them ‘cause they didn’t survive.

Anyway, you gotta remember that this lady was pretty privileged for a woman durin’ that period of time, so we’re gonna turn back the clock to the Song dynasty, in 1083 AD.

Li Qingzhao was born in the Shandong province, during the reign of Emperor Shenzong. Her family was pretty well-connected and they were all government officials and scholars. Her daddy was Li Kefei, and he was a scholar at the Imperial Academy in Kaifeng, and also served the Song court is the minister of rites. Her momma was the granddaughter of this bad-ass lady Wang Gongchen, who was a poet and essayist (more on her later). So since her family had real educated peeps, it wasn’t surprisin’ that they taught her the classics and shiz, unlike other girls.

Li Qingzhao was pretty smart and was totes interested in becoming a scholar, even more so than her brother, Li Mang, and her other sisters. So her momma encouraged her to write dem ci poetry, which she was totally good at.

Soon, she became famous in her hometown for her talent, and even managed to write two shi type of poems to complement those that were written by Zhang Wenqian, who was like, a friend of her daddy.

See, her response was on point – ‘cause like, Zhang wrote about how awesome it was that the Tang dynasty still remained even after the An Lushan rebellion, ‘cause he was inspired by this monument. But Li Qingzhao wasn’t havin’ any of that shit. She was all, “Are you fo’real? The Tang dynasty went down the tubes, after that!”

Her daddy and his friends were like, “OMG, she’s totally right,” and praised her. Obvsly, this wasn’t the norm in China, but hey – ‘cause of this, she was encouraged to totally become a great poet.

Next: Li Qingzhao gets married.

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Japan in World War I — The Siege of Tsingtao,

While Japan is notorious among World War II historians and buffs for being one of the Axis Powers, many don’t know that Japan was one of the Allied Powers during the earlier World War I.  Unlike most European powers who joined the war either due to ethnic/nationalistic feelings or entangling political alliances, Japan joined the war against Germany for a very specific, practical reason.  During the late 19th and early 20th century Germany had acquired numerous territories throughout Asia and the Pacific.  Japan, which was quickly growing into an expansionist imperial power wanted those territories.  Throughout much of the war Japanese naval forces clashed with the German military, overruning island outposts and colonies throughout the Pacfic which would form the foundation of Japan’s Pacific island empire.  Such territories included Marianas, Caroline, and Marshall Islands as well as several port cities along the coast of China.  

One of the most important colonies for Germany in the Far East was the port of Tsingtao (now Qingdao), in Shandong Province, China, which served as the German military and commerical headquarters in the Far East and Pacific.  On the 27th of August, 1914 the Japanese Navy blockaded the port, and on October 31st a force of 23,000 Japanese soldiers laid siege to the city.  They were joined by a token British force numbering around 1,500 sent by the British government to keep tabs on what the Japanese were up to.  The German garrison of the city numbered only 4,000, however the Germans had dug in, surrounding the city with two formidable defensive lines of trenches and bunkers.  The Japanese commander, Gen. Kamio Mitsuomi, had heard of the incredible bloodshed which had occurred on the Western Front, and sought to use new tactics to avoid needless slaughter.  Rather than conducting massive frontal assaults, he ordered surprise night attacks and raids against the German trenches.  Equipped with 144 field and siege guns Mitsuomi also developed brilliant artillery tactics such as suppression fire and creeping artillery, something European forces would adopt a little later in the war.  Finally his artillery fired random bursts all along the trenches 24/7, throughout the siege very few German soldiers got a good nights sleep.

By November 6th the Japanese had taken most of Tsingtao’s strong points while the Germans were running dangerously short of food and ammunition.  The next day the German’s surrendered, handing over the port three days later.  During the siege, the Japanese had suffered 727 killed, most of which occurred when a Japanese warship struck a mine in the harbor.  The Germans lost 200.  Incredibly in the victory parade following the German surrender, the British demanded that they be the first to march into the city.  Such an act was pretty offensive and arrogant considering that the Japanese had done most of the legwork of capturing the city.  Unlike in World War II were the Japanese treated prisoners with extreme cruelty, the German POWS of World War I were treated exceptional generosity and kindness.  Most were sent to the Bando prisoner of war camp, which had a reputation for being more like a vacation resort than a prison. Most of the 4,000 German POWs were returned to Germany in January of 1920, 63 of the prisoners chose to remain in Japan.

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Fake windows on building for ‘decoration’

The government of Qingdao, Shandong Province has responded to queries over fake windows painted on the outside of a block of low-cost apartments in the city, saying the windows are there for aesthetic reasons.

According to a report from China National Radio, the appearance of painted windows on a new tower block sparked rumors on the Internet, with some asking whether the government was cutting corners in a bid to save money.

Others asked whether the construction company had cheated the government in order to increase its profit margin.

A CNR reporter visiting the site confirmed the existence of the painted windows and said that the building would not look any worse without them.

The local government said the tower block had been built in strict accordance with the design of the planning department and the painted windows were just for decoration.

via China Daily

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Happy Lantern Festival!

With Thursday marking China’s spectacular Lantern Festival, special celebrations are being held in cities across the country.

In Qihe county of Shandong province, one aquarium marked the day with an underwater performance of mermaids carrying lanterns.

In other cities, parades, dragon dancing, family feasts and lantern shows are being held for the occasion. What about you? What do you like to do for the lantern festival? Share it with us.