A little Time Out in Shandong province... / by Thomas O'Malley

Worst. Museum. Ever.
Drunk room
New face of Qingdao
Say cheese
Mystery fruit
German cookie dough church
Food street
Starfish grill
Nice restaurant
Beer in a jar
Banquet number 1 of 10
Suggestion?
A-cocklin'
Me and girlz
Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center
Bling balcony
InterCon Qingdao
This is the best Qingdao Olympic Museum photo I've ever taken
Qingdao guide
Chug a lug
China's world famous beer
Dry cooked seafood yum
Another sweet n sour fish
Spicy pig intestines

Tour with Shandong Tourism Bureau, a set on Flickr.

These are seven days I'll never forget. A research trip for a 30-page travel guide to Shandong Province on behalf of Time Out. The Shandong Tourism Bureau were footing the bill (and dictating the content), which meant seven days of government banquets, swilling glasses of baijiu with red-faced cadres over lunch and then staggering tipsily around tourist sights so bizarre (the Dezhou Braised Chicken Museum) that I was often grateful for the alcohol in my system.

Shandong isn't the most beguiling province for tourists in China - it's urbanised, wealthy, more than a little corrupt, with neither the cuisine or ethnic culture that makes provinces like Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangdong shine. But I wasn't drunk all the time, so here are three well-deserved highlights of Shandong province:

Qingdao: 'Little Switzerland' by the sea. Colonial German architecture, lovely clear air and climate, some nice hotels and good fresh seafood. And beer, of course.

Climbing Mount Tai: A treasure trove of Chinese culture, this sacred peak has been conquered by everyone from Confucius to Chairman Mao. Choose a clear day and the views are heavenly.

Qufu: A sedate, walled town that's largely escaped the enthusiastic redevelopment that has transformed everywhere else in Shandong beyond recognition. The Confucius Family Mansion is a really sweet crib; the family cemetery a haunting forest to get lost in.