Saturday, October 18, 2008

Qingdao, Day 2

After enjoying such a charmed day yesterday, today was bound to disappoint. The girls fell asleep late and awoke early, then having trouble napping this afternoon. This certainly set a difficult pallor on the day, which only disappeared when they both fell sound asleep at 9:00 this evening... leaving me in a dark hotel room facing a computer screen for the next few hours.

We began the day at Polar Ocean World, an aquarium sitting at the water's edge. We bought our tickets a mere 5 minutes before the water show began, and headed straight over to watch seals, whales and a walrus dance and perform tricks. We skipped a visit to the zoo, remembering the dancing bears and trained monkeys at the last Chinese zoo we had visited. But somehow, clapping seals and a walrus doing sit-ups didn't seem so bad. The girls enjoyed the show, and were quite excited by its finish to go and visit the other animals inside.

This is still China, where tourist attractions either focus on amazing Chinese culture and heritage, or they make a half-assed attempt to copy something Western. This was one such attempt. The first half of the acquarium saw only about 5 tanks of animals, and some like the Polar Bears looked really cramped and agitated. The building was not at all stroller friendly, and the bathrooms were slippery and disgusting. All that aside, the girls had a great time. The place was not crowded, and my two loved moving from tank to tank and starting at the strange creatures moving inside. L--'s displayed a quick attention span, darting from one tank to the next. S-- showed an interest in what was displayed, often moving back to an earlier tank to watch what her sister had passed so quickly.

By the end, we were all hungry. We jumped into a taxi for a long ride to picnic in Bai Hua Park, said to be the loveliest hidden gem in Qingdao. I assume that the competition for this award was rather slim, but the girls enjoyed romping through the grass with their shoes off and hiding in the low hanging branches of the evergreens. After an afternoon of too short naps, we headed to a sub-par Indian restaurant with Daddy, where the girls ate bread and left with nearly empty bellies. They finished the day watching The Discovery Channel in the hotel room with their hands dug into bowls of Cheerios.

Although the sites and food were less than perfect, the weather and the lack of crowds were quite relaxing. Simply being outside of Shanghai continues to be refreshing, and we've got a lovely weekend to spend time exploring parks. Even common city parks.

Uncle H-- has nothing scheduled for his employees tomorrow, and we don't leave for the airport until 2:30pm. If our children wake before then, we hope to join a friend who hails from Qingdao as she leads a few of us on a walking tour of her favorite sites. If we make it, you can look forward to a photo journal of day 3.

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