If you readed our results on South Korea, you probably already understood that we did not like China. We passed customs control and now in the arrival hall of Qindao Airport. We have 1500 rubles. And in addition to everything in Seoul, I began to get cold and today I already have snot. We changed the last Korean money, as well as all the euros and dollars that remained from trips to the USA and Europe and which we took just in case – apparently, it has come. We brewed noodles and coffee – we ate hot noodles, took backpacks and … did not go anywhere. After all, behind the glass wall was another wall – a wall of rain.
– Where to go in this weather?
– Yeah! Well, let’s make some noodles
So the whole day passed, and then the night. And while we were at the airport, we were able to solicit payment for the site from a friend, and he was very helpful to us! Now we have a little money and it’s not so scary to go out into this big hostile world.
You can look at the constant lack of funds from a slightly different angle. After all, if we had enough money to take a bus from the airport to the center of Qingdao or buy tickets to Shanghai, then: firstly, we would not have these adventures that we write to you about; secondly, we would not be able to see the real harsh life of local people. And Qingdao immediately showed us the true face of China!
We leave the airport and start to stop a car, we are walked on the heat for about an hour. Ahead of the mall. At first it seems that it is still closed, but when you are approaching, you understand that it is abandoned. Further empty and dirty stalls, people are trying to do something, waiting for some kind of customer, everything is quiet and gloomy. Here is an unfinished elite residential complex with the promise of paradise on banners. But the reality is completely different and it amazes with the lost millions and raises a million questions: “Why?”. After all, this is not only the outskirts of Qindao, but all the outskirts of large cities and all the small towns of China – like frames from films about post-apocalypse. I think in a couple of years, when trees will go out of the windows, stalkers in China will be more interesting than in Pripyat.
In Shanghai, we asked Shaya: “Why are there so many abandoned buildings in China?” She replied that people do not have enough money to complete them and they just forget about them. But why they will not sell the house to someone who has the money to complete it? It seems to me that the real problem is that, with all the Chinese diligence and developed international relations, they have no work inside the country and no domestic economy. No work – no demand for housing. And since everyone goes to work in big cities or abroad – small cities become ghosts. But life does not leave them completely. And in the center of the city one can still find a macdonalds, a popular shopping center, working hotels, and in general observe the ordinary life and the bustle of the city.
A little bit of history
In 1897, the Chinese killed a couple of German missionaries, and for this the Germans took this huge port city. It turns out that it happens. Now, thanks to the colonizers, Qindao looks European in style. It is very large, clean and stretches far along the sea on both sides of Jiaozhou Bay, through which the world’s longest bridge over the water is laid. Only these modern, but cheap skyscrapers with eternally dirty glass spoil the view. In general, in China we saw buildings with clear glass only in tourist centers in Shanghai and in Beijing, on this, perhaps, everything.
We could not catch the car, besides we made the wrong track and went to the bus stop. One kind man put us on a bus, the kind driver of which waved his hand saying: “Come in, don’t pay!” We drove a couple of stops and we were transplanted to another, we went to the salon, sat down and smiled like fools, we don’t pay, we just sit and wait for someone to say something. So we drove about twenty kilometers, came out not far from the center and went to the beach.
After we went around all the supermarkets of the city, we realized that we couldn’t buy gas anywhere else, which means that we couldn’t cook ourselves anymore until Shanghai, where Shaya would order us a gas on Taobao and we stay one night longer. And after, in Thailand, we will ask for boiling water wherever possible: the police, in shops, in cafes and bus stations. But it should be so, because we need to get rid of our shyness. In the world tour, she is definitely not our friend.
In Qindao, we stayed for two days and decided that if we didn’t find more or less adequate bus tickets, we would take a ferry to the other side of the bay and start to stop a car. I keep quiet about trains – those are not justified at all expensive! We did not find the ferry, or rather the port was abandoned, and unexpectedly for ourselves, we discovered a wonderful way to travel by suburban buses.
Google made us a route to the nearest suburb, gave us the bus numbers and how to get to the bus stop. So we went to the tunnel under the water to the final station on the other side for two yuan per person. Half of the people quickly ran over to another bus, and we followed suit. Now we are going for two yuan another twenty kilometers through the southern part of Qindao and its suburbs, which are very picturesque. We drove the famous beer factory “Qindao”, which was founded under the Germans, then the local “Hollywood”, a maze of sleeping areas, and now we are at another transfer point. We ask people at the station: “How to get to the city in seventy kilometers?”. It turned out that nothing. But we can take the bus for four yuan and drive forty. We like these savings! Though it takes time car, but we don’t need to hitchhiking.
At seven we arrived at Polizhen. Already pitch darkness. We were not taken to the final station, and stop in the city somewhere along the way. Then the couple wanted to take us to the hotel, but we said that everything was in order, and they drove us to the bus station. We decided to find hot water and Wi-Fi. It turned out that in this backwater there are no cheap rooms. They went to set up a tent and found a place in the communist garden. We thought that if you get up at five, then we will have time to leave unnoticed, but at five in the morning, you can see, the work start. The workers did not care for us, which was surprising after the South Koreans.
We were delighted early, because the suburb of Qindao was over and now you can only go seven kilometers to ten kilometers by bus from small towns. Shaking up the entire bus station, we refused to drive fifty kilometers to Rizhao for thirty-five yuan, because yesterday we drove seventy over eight and went to hitchhiking out of town. We left the city, got on a bus and drove a kilometer. And after half an hour, the guy stopped and said that Riczhao on that side, as if we didn’t know ourselves, but when asked to take us, he said: “No!”. Well, okay, drive on! We go on foot to the next stop, look – returns. “Sit down!” – says. We drove seven kilometers, he stopped and began to catch for us a bus. And we go in Rizhao for thirty-three yuan.
We were stupid, lost a lot of time and effort and we go to the store to ask for hot water and eat noodles on the steps near the entrance, admiring the dusty half-empty buildings, and then take a ticket to Lianyungang.
In China, you are constantly confronted with various silly restrictions. For example, you cannot use free Wi-Fi without a SIM card, and at the station, in order to charge the equipment or just sit and relax, waiting for the rain to end, you need to go to the waiting room, and for this you have to buy a ticket, even if you have just arrived by bus from another city.
And here we stand in the corridor at the entrance to the bus station near the only outlet that is high above the ceiling, and we charge the phone. Constantly have to pull out the wire when guards pass by. It was raining on the street, the sneakers were wiped, and you know that as soon as you get out they will immediately get wet. But we had to go somewhere, and we went to the railway station to find out the cost of the tickets. Station not working. We go through the whole semi-abandoned city to the highway. It is getting dark. It is still a couple of kilometers to the junction. Nastya noticed a green fence near the sidewalk and offered to put a tent right behind her. So we did. And when in the morning they went to the cafe to ask for boiling water, they found another bus station and left for another “Hun Mun”.
Next, the logic worked as follows: “Since we are relatively close to Shanghai, then we can try to go by suburban buses again.” But how wrong we were! We left the bus station and went back to find out the ticket prices, just in case. Shanghai has become three times closer, but it seems that three times more expensive. They asked the driver which bus to get to the neighboring town seven kilometers away. He put us on a bus for two yuan and we were glad that the scheme was working again, but we wrong and the bus stopped at bus stop so that we could transfer. We moved. This bus is more expensive. This bus took us to an unknown place and we got off. There were a couple of guys at the bus stop.
– How do we get to Nantong?
– Bla bla bla … – not a single word is not clear.
A bus that does not look like a suburban bus, but they brake it and put us into it. He is half empty. It turned out that this is a private bus, inside of which were: the owner, a couple of men, an aunt, and of course the driver. Show where we go. Aunt asks a little in English and nods knowingly, but does not understand. We were transferred to the daughter of the bus owner, who by phone learned that we have little money and that we need to go to Shanghai, but now we are going to Nantong. She said that we will be go on this bus to Nantong. We exhaled, the owner came up and asked for payment so very expensive, we again inhaled and paid, having decided that it was still cheaper. But after about five kilometers we were brought under the rain to the bus station and told us to go out. Shock! We are financially and morally devastated to learn that from here to Shanghai is even more expensive, but we have no choice but to buy tickets to Nantong again. We try not to think that we were deceived, but to think that at least they brought us to the bus station.
The city, by the way, is quite good, modern with large shopping centers and expensive brands, with city parks, with an abandoned tower with a viewing platform and even seems to have some kind of history. To Shanghai is a hundred and thirty kilometers, but now we must take the tickets now! The trouble is that we have already spent all our money and we have no choice how to go look for Wi-Fi to do the work.
It’s done, but our bus will be now only in the morning. We spend the night in a tent between trimmed bushes near the pond in the city park, and in the morning we look again at the police to pour hot water from their large thermos. So we got to Shanghai, damn it, and spent almost the same amount, for which we were offered. And besides, we spent six times more time, a lot of strength and nerves. And somehow, we gnawed the Chinese hitchhiking granite and learned that time is even more valuable than money!