Jinan, July 11, 2013
Having met some local Shandong-nese before who are super proud of their Confucius hometown, I can’t help but building some speculation about Shandong on this trip to Jinan, the next key city after Qingdao in Shandong province.
We touch down at Jinan airport on schedule, which to me is incredible for China. Obviously the law says that all flights have to complete boarding on time. What a law! The only tiny issue is that you never depart on time. You are made to sit on the plane waiting for take off. No wonder all of my local friends would rather take an inter-provincial train ride. At least you know when you get to the other end.
Super excited from the first on-schedule flight, we walk out to Confucius’ hometown….
Jinan seems to be quite indifferent to these strangers. The sky is gloomy & grey. The haze is unbearable. The structures on both sides of the roads are tired and cranky. Apart from the familiar liquor ads, I feel like being pushed aside from the first encounter. On second thought, maybe Jinan needs more time to get to know any strangers.
Though pollution is scratching my throat, I decide to take a walk around to learn about this city of mystery. Don’t know whether I should be surprised to see rows of shopping malls, big and small, old and new, local and western looking, lining up along the main road. What can one expect? Shopping seems to be the official hobby one can add to their CVs for sure. Yes it is Shandong, Yes it is Confucius hometown. Yet yes, it is modern China in its heroic making. Hang on, at least I do spot a billboard at a bus-stop with the image of Confucius on it….
Disinterested by another tier 2 Chinese city life, I walk towards the run-down local department buildings on a cross street, keeping myself entertained by the out-of-tune color combination in the way people dress here. The rule is there is no rule. And check out the copy cat brands! They are all shining in massive, well-lit street shops. Tired from the heat, the humidity and the pollution, returning to the hotel sounds like an inspiring thought. Only then do I spot the scene of the day, a happy- go- lucky kiddo doing number 2 on the pavement. Hold on! Daddy is proudly giving him a helping hand, wiping profusely. Mommy? She seems quite relaxed and enjoyed the happy scene. After all, this could make a nice story-board for a toilet paper brand, couldn’t it?
Have I got a feel for Jinan? Well, to some extent….