Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Foggy-no-saurus in Qingdao

The first light of morning was a tad muted by a thick cloak of fog smothering Qingdao. After a good nights sleep, in a bed that was harder than rough-cut diamond, I got myself ready for the first day back in China.

Han knocked on my door at precisely the prearranged time for breakfast. Han Fl has been given the task of making sure that both Brandon and I get to the Zhucheng meeting (Brandon is doing his best to make things complicated….well, airlines and weather are). His command of English is quite excellent and he is about as helpful and cheerful as a person can be.

It seems I am staying in the Qingdao Second Hotel, its name a reflection of the clear order of things here. The hotel, I think, is near the airport, but with the fog reducing visibility to 5 yards this morning…we could also be on a cliff, mountain or seafront…and I would not have a clue, until I took a blind step in the wrong direction!

Han suggested we get breakfast outside the hotel and our driver appeared to whisk us off into the morning fog. He looked a little nervous at the fog. I too was a little unsure at how being in a mini-van would improve our vision…it didn’t. We managed a walking pace 100 yards before the driver decided that dodging pedestrians, buses and motorbikes was not much fun…it seems the fog (‘Wu’….my first new Chinese word of the day) had permitted a free-for-all on the roads of Qingdao, as no police or official could see enough to take or give offence. We headed back to our hotel and were told they would supply us a guide to help locate the other hotel, where breakfast would be served.

Meantime, Brandon was also fog-bound in Beijing…but with at least 500 meters of visibility…luxury compared to where I am. The chances of an aircraft landing in Qingdao at the moment are borderline to zero. So, it looks like I’m here for the day! My second Chinese word was ‘yanwu’…it means delay.
Our breakfast-hotel guide arrived and asked that we follow his car, in our mini-van…I assume he had radar or that the constant blowing of his horn providing him with some echo-location ability. We stealthily beeped and slipped our way through the invisible city of Qingdao…avoiding pedestrians, cars, bikes and busses (at least tried to). We soon arrived at our destination…a foggy car park! However, by walking 10 feet made me realize we had parked next to several stories of hotel, albeit cloaked better than a Klingon starship. As we entered the hotel lobby, I felt as if my blindfold had been removed…I could see again!

We ascended a grand staircase to eat breakfast with Han and our driver. Steamed dumplings, seaweed rice, egg and fried chicken. Not my usual cereal breakfast, but remembering the advice of my colleague Peter Dodson, just tuck in and enjoy. So I did! After a brail-like journey back to our hotel, I find myself dutifully writing my blog…but I think I’d better go and explore Qingdao, seeing as I’m here (well, seeing as much as one can in the fog!).

PS. Apologies for the lack of images….but if I changed the page background to white, you would be seeing as much as I can!

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