While in Qingzhou, Shandong, China we decided to hit up 2 popular places among the locals. The first place was The Ancient Village of Jintang which as built in 1456 during the Ming Dynasty. Due to most of the signs being in Chinese and not having a tour guide, we were only able to learn about this beautiful city by looking at its remains. It was amazing to see all the ancient architecture as we weaved up the mountainside the city was built on. Ruins of homes and meeting places in different states of preservation lined the mountain. Streams and stone steps were carved as roadways through out the village. At the top of the mountain there was a big castle-like structure with Canons that must have been some sort of a look out. We climbed to the top of the castle and enjoyed the view before hiking back down and eating lunch right outside the village.
The 2nd thing on our agenda, was to try the famous cakes from this city. These cakes are very popular throughout our province, and are meant to be eaten on special occasions, specifically new years. We've been told that the line to buy cakes on New Years eve is out the door, and many people leave empty handed. We walked and walked looking for this little cake shop. All we had to lead us there was a little paper with hand written Chinese characters on it. We walked up and down roads holding our paper up to the store fronts trying to match the characters on the signs. We finally found the shop as they were closing down and were surprised to see the cakes didn't look like cakes in the American sense at all! They were more like little filled, dense, sticky, square cookie or biscuits. We bought a box of them and took them to the hotel to taste. After biting in to the little square cookies we realized it would be impossible to explain the taste and texture, because it was like nothing we had ever had! They were very sweet and rich, especially for a Chinese snack, and the sesame oil flavor was very strong. When you bite in to them the sesame filling oozes out and although we weren't so sure about it at first, the more we ate them the more we enjoyed them. We even find ourselves craving them now! After returning home to Weifang we purchased some at our local grocery store, but they were no where near as good. We finally understood the hype of these Chinese traditional cakes.
We had a really fun time in Qingzhou and plan to go back again. The city is only 20 minutes by bullet train and is very inexpensive to get to from were we live. We've enjoyed having so many things to do, and so much amazing history near by.
Here are more pictures of our walk around Qingzhou in search of the famous cakes