City of Variety and Contrast

Yantai with its 6.5 million inhabitants occupies a special position in my travel reminiscences. Yantai doesn't fit into to the category of "perfect" developed cities in China and is around 10 to15 years behind other cities which I visited before as regards development. Alongside ultramodern tower blocks, there are also old residential areas with an age of probably 100 or 200 years still in existence. Most of the modern business and residential areas were built between 1950 and 1970. Outside the city there are huge satellite towns in various stages of development. Travellers looking for variety will find it dead right in Yantai.
According to the internet it rains only once a year in Yantai . . . the whole summer! I can't completely agree with that but it did rain very often. However, it was always brought a welcome cooling. It is said that the climate is very pleasant for Europeans . . . I burned up at times. Yantai had the last frost 200 years ago. An allusion to the "pleasant" climate.

Yantai is located almost at the head of the peninsula "Shandong Bandao" and so almost directly north of China. The city counts as the important seaport of the region at the "Yellow Sea". The surrounding areas are mostly devoted to agriculture. Big industry seems not to exist.
The menu is totally geared to seafood due to the close distance to the sea. This makes the agricultural produce not unimportant.

In this city are a lot of markets and the local products are offered directly from the farmer.
The night market was very exciting. The street in front of my hotel was blocked off from 5 or 6 o'clock in the afternoon. The closing was not very interesting for a lot of road users however. Uncountable hawkers with different goods for the daily needs built up their stalls. The main commodities on offer were textiles but also there were kitchen utensils, jewelry, music-CDs, cosmetics, Chinese drawings and also the famous "Lollex" . . . simply anything could be bought. I bought two pairs of jeans (Made in China) for an unbelievable 7 Euro. Fantastic! The stream of people gradually ebbs away around 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning and nothing could be seen of the market when the sun rose . . . until the next evening . . . 7 days per week.

I talked about the chinese kitchen in my report about Gungzhou. Everything is edible. My colleague talked only about "bicycle tubes" and "valve rubber" during the dinner. He was not totally wrong. The sea cucumber belongs to the menu as we also know it from Guangzhou. It's also edible for Europeans when it's taken apart. The consistency is very similar to a bicycle inner tube. In the internet the sea cucumber is described as the "Chinese vitamin bomb". Next day it was served in its complete beauty. Imagine a 10 to 15 cm long black snail covered with thousands of strange outgrowths. I was pounced upon with an excess of satiation immediately. The other food was cut in short pieces and looked like grey bicycle valve rubbers. They could have been "mud flats worms" in their complete size . . . I am not sure . . . I don't want to be sure. China is also very famous for silk but I didn't know that "silk catarpillars" can also be eaten. Very surprising.

The lighthouse on the Yantai hill is the landmark of Yantai. The region was attacked over and over again by pirates during the Ming-era (around 1398).The Yantai people built two small forts with cannons and a beacon flat as a warning device. The light of the fire warned the people during the night and the thick smoke during the day. This thick black smoke gave Yantai its name. Yan is the Chinese word for smoke. Many countries built their diplomatic missions around the later constructed lighthouse. Solely this fact leads one to suppose that Yantai has seen better days in the past.

Yantai is planning and constructing a lot in the tourism sector. They have laid out beaches for miles inside and outside of the city. The newly constructed hotels and restaurants remind one of a British lido or Colonial buildings. A lot of diversion is offered on the beaches for the guests and their children. From the swing boat to the total techno party everything is available.

I promised to talk about my journey to Burkina Faso. It has been cancelled now. Who knows for what it was good.

Always when I have been in China it is necessary to mention my good friends Mr. Pan Guangning and Ms. Qiao Miao. China would be only a huge spot on the map without them. They gave us their best support and care and they have made China to our favourite country.