A Day at the Beach

Despite total exhaustion after a 26-hour travel day, we woke early on our first full day in Qingdao. We were the first people in the hotel’s onsite Chinese restaurant for breakfast, where they hadn’t even put the sausages out yet. I am always delighted by the eclecticism of an Asian hotel breakfast buffet, and although I was sad the Castle Hotel’s lacked lychees, I made up for it with Chinese broccoli, hard boiled egg, dragonfruit, yogurt, and a churro. Plus about a gallon of delicious, German-style coffee. My daughter had corn on the cob, boiled prawns, three kinds of baozi, melon, toast, and apple juice.

Confident that eating again before dinnertime was purely optional, and knowing that jet lag makes you stupid, we had no fixed plans for the day. Continue reading


Chinese Devices

Screenshot_2015-07-05-17-50-22I can’t call this a post of “tech tips” because I am by no means expert enough to dispense advice about technology. I never did figure out how to get Google maps-type directions, and I never managed to search for restaurants near me using my phone when I was out and about. There are probably better, simpler, cheaper ways to do the things I did manage that I didn’t figure out. But here are 8 observations about how I kinda sorta got my tech devices to work for me when I was in China. Continue reading

A Beautiful Smile

At the China Community Art and Culture Hotel Restaurant, a puppet show to celebrate Children's Day.

At the China Community Art and Culture Hotel Restaurant, a puppet show to celebrate Children’s Day.

A few days into our trip, my daughter commented that people in Qingdao seemed nicer than people at home. She said, “Even when it’s their job to be nice to us, they just seem to mean it more. Except for the traffic, Qingdao feels safer than Seattle.” I knew what she meant, and I had to agree. I talked about the curious stares and occasional stink-eye in an earlier post, but the truth is, more often than not, once people figure out our relationship, the most common response is a thumbs up. After a couple of days in Qingdao, the first two words that came to mind to describe Qingdaonese were “kind” and “gentle.” Continue reading

High Seat Posts

Reading the sagas, I always wondered what “high seat posts” looked like. This replica was at the Saga Museum in Reykjavik’s Perlan. Now that I’ve seen them, I wonder why Vikings bothered carrying them across the ocean when they moved to Iceland.


Stink Eye


My daughter is convinced that everyone is staring at us. This notion is ridiculous. Not quite half the people we pass stare at us. Staring is just not as taboo in China, and we do stand out. A white woman walking with a Chinese child generates some cognitive dissonance on the streets of Qingdao, Shandong. Beside myself, I only saw one other white woman today. She was one of two Caucasians (an American couple) we spotted on our first day in China.  Continue reading