Day 3 – 10/17/2011

Jinan – Qingdao

Never-ending frenzy, restless activity and constant noise appear to dominate the China of the present. Yet contemplative calm, meditative relaxation and absolute concentration form the very foundation of traditional Chinese culture – or so we think in the West. This is an apparent contradiction with which most people in China appear to have no problem whatsoever. Today’s program for the participants in the Trans China Tour includes a meeting with Confucius – albeit of a tourist nature. And the evening brings beer with German roots.

Pictures day 3

Haste in Jinan’s morning rush hour traffic is a pointless exercise. The only sensible way to approach this is with patience and a relaxed attitude. It easily takes an hour for all the vehicles on the Audi Q3 Trans China Tour 2011 to leave the city at the start of the second stage. However, the open road that follows compensates for all the stress – serpentines wind their way up to an altitude of 900 meters, the scenery is forested and sparsely populated. In one of the villages along the route there is virtually no way through for the cars – today is the weekly market and it occupies the entire road. Hand carts with fruit, cages of poultry, stalls laden with textiles all use the carriageway as their retail space. The horn helps to prevent the Q3 from becoming simply another part of the furniture – but it’s hard work.

However, there is power in calm. An understanding, even a wisdom, that can only come from the traditional culture of this land – the culture of the temple and the monks, the silent arts and the sacred sanctuaries. A great deal is sacred in this land, despite all the dramatic turbulence of the last century. Mountains, for example, are sacred – a lot of mountains. Nobody knows the exact number. However, Tai Shan (1532 meters), north of the city of Taian and situated directly next to the route of the Trans China Tour, is definitely one of them. It is one of the five sacred mountains of Taoism and has been worshipped since the 11th century and possibly even longer. The list of its conquerors is long and impressive – Confucius and Mao Zedong were here, as were six Chinese emperors. More than 6000 stone steps lead the way to its summit. For tourists, however, there is also a cable car – a tribute to these constantly hurried, modern times.

The participants in the Trans China Tour are able to experience another, far more meaningful memorial to Chinese history – Qufu is where Confucius once lived and allegedly also died. According to popular myth in the area, almost every fourth inhabitant of this World Heritage Site is descended from the great Chinese philosopher and visionary. The old town is surrounded by a city wall, while the Confucius Temple with its nine courtyards, gardens and many buildings is an impressive sight.

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Confucius – in the West, quoted frequently and usually incorrectly. He was born under the name of Kong Qiu and supposedly lived from 551 B.C. until 479 B.C. The human condition was the central theme of his philosophical work. Respecting one’s fellow man and honoring one’s elders elevate the individual to a “noble” person.
For Confucius, whose life’s work was dedicated to education, it was important to strive for harmony and the middle way, equanimity and balance. Even though tourism is rather the dominating feature here, this visit nevertheless leaves behind a small sense of this land’s mighty history.

Today’s destination is the port city of Qingdao. Although it might seem hard to believe on the long approach through the sprawling miles of new buildings, this city actually has a significant colonial heritage – of a German nature. The port was captured under Kaiser Wilhelm II and a lease contract signed for the next 99 years. Although the German occupation lasted only until 1914, they still managed to build a brewery, the train station, a lighthouse, the protestant church, several missionary posts, a variety of German educational institutions… Although, like everywhere else in booming China, many of these colonial buildings have had to give way to palaces of glass and steel, there are still enough architectural monuments left to give this teaming city a very special flair.

Among the first tasks undertaken by the German colonialists in 1903 was the construction of a proper brewery. Under the name “Tsingtau Germania Bauerei”, it began by brewing pilsner and Munich brown ale. Japanese occupation, the period under the leadership of Kuomintang and finally communist China – Tsingtao has survived it all and is now enjoyed across the globe. There are virtually no Chinese restaurants in which this beverage is not included on the menu. The Chinese state today holds a 45-percent share of the company, with Japanese brewery Asahi being the second-largest shareholder with 31 percent.

Day 3

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