A lot of people have been asking where in China we’re living. Well, we are in Haiyang (pronounced Haiyung), which is in the northeast part of the country. Given that this country is huge, that doesn’t narrow it down much. So below are some other, slightly more specific, points of reference.
Qingdao is the closest “big” city to us at an hour and a half drive away. It is probably somewhat recognizable to those of you who don’t have Jeopardy like knowledge of China’s geography because it is known for Tsingtao Beer—a lasting legacy of the city’s German inhabitants.
For those of you who’ve never heard of Qingdao or Tsingtao, we’re almost equidistant from Beijing and Shanghai, with Beijing located a short eight-hour drive northwest and Shanghai a mere nine-hour drive southeast. Luckily for us, we can hop on hour flights to either city from Qingdao.
Or, perhaps you’ve heard of North Korea. If a ferry existed from here to there, we could make it to Pyongyang pretty quickly. Hopefully, any and all types of rockets launched by the North Koreans will fly right over us or crash into the Yellow Sea.
We found ourselves even closer to North Korea last week. We had to apply for our residence permits in Yantai, which is known as the or a “snow nest of China.” My Mandarin tutor wasn’t specific, but either way, I can see why. I’ve been driven (we can’t drive here; more on that topic another time) to Yantai twice now and each time was a slow experience. The drive should take an hour on the highway that was recently opened between Haiyang and Yantai, but both times it took about twice as long. Last week, our driver thought the highway was closed and took us on back roads. The drive seemed never-ending considering we were going an average speed of 35 mph on top of snow and ice-covered roads, but it gave us a chance to see the gorgeous geography of the area. The sprawling mountains on either side of the valley we drove through are reminiscent of Colorado. We drove by several villages that presented a much different China than what we’ve seen in the cities. Rows of concrete bunker-looking houses, many with orange tile roofs, were complete with skinny metal smoke stacks. We weren’t sure if the smoke coming out was from wood fires or coal stoves, and as the sun set on our chilly drive back home, we decided we weren’t going to open a window to smell the potential difference. Hell, we were too tired to even try to take pictures. Chinese government offices with their long lines, throngs of people, and lack of heat, had sucked the life out of us.