Cultural riviera

Updated: 2015-11-09 08:01

By Erik Nilsson(China Daily)

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Cultural riviera

A Taoist follower practices martial arts at Taiqinggong temple.[Liu Yonglai/Zhang Yan/Bo Keguo/China Daily]

A different living legacy of Taiqinggong's first pilgrims is that it still functions as a religious establishment. Monks' chants reverberate through the forests.

Near the temple, visitors can eat farm-fresh meals, seated on ancient kang beds in stone village houses that roll down Laoshan, while gazing at the sparkling sea.

Another shoreline rock structure is the Old Stone Man, a rock formation not only named for its shape but also for its folklore.

The fable says that the Dragon King abducted a farm girl as his concubine. Her father was so distressed that he sat gazing at the whitecaps, awaiting her return, until he fossilized. His daughter was so distraught that she committed suicide.

(Incidentally, Tian'anmen's Monument to the People's Heroes is sculpted from Laoshan rock.)

While Laoshan is the most famous alp fringing Qingdao, downtown's Xiaoyu (Small Fish) Mount offers the most panoramic view of the city smashing into the seashore.

The 18-meter-high tower atop the hill offers vistas of red roofs, green trees and blue skies and seas.

Downtown is roughly divided into east and west by an abrupt cutoff of skyscrapers delineated by a canopy of trees punctuated with older, red-tiled roofs.

While projecting a Mediterranean feel, the buildings hail to the German-concession period.

Yet the architectural texture becomes more complex in the bayside Badaguan, or Eight Roads historical zone. (Actually, there are 10 lanes, each lined with a different tree species.)

It houses structures erected in the first three decades of the 20th century, when wealthy people from 20 countries constructed houses in their national styles.

Or didn't.

Take the Granite Castle built in ancient Greek and Roman styles in 1931 for a Russian aristocrat that was later home to a British businessman and used for formal receptions after liberation.

Or the Princess House-known mostly for Denmark's prince Axel's 1930 visit with his wife, Margaretha-rendered in Nordic style by a Russian designer.

It has been repurposed-perhaps oddly but happily-as a Chinese shrine to fairy-tale virtuoso Hans Christian Andersen. That is, with a gallery, themed coffee shop and statues of pink castles and (of course?) Minnie Mouse.

The question becomes: Why not?

The answer is: The place is literally crawling with kids.