Monday, 27 August 2012


Former western postal name of Qingdao, China a major seaport, naval base, and industrial centre on the Shandong Peninsula on the Yellow Sea. China conceded the area to Germany in 1898, and the Kiautschou Bay concession, as it became known, existed from 1898 to 1914.

After a minor British naval attack on the German colony in 1914, Japan occupied the city and the surrounding province during the Siege of Tsingtao after Japan's declaration of war on Germany in accordance with the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The failure of the Allied powers to restore Chinese rule to Shandong after the war triggered the May Fourth Movement. The city reverted to Chinese rule in December, 1922, under control of the Republic of China. The city became a direct-controlled municipality of the Chinese Government in 1929. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry visited the port between July 29th and 1st August 1927 on his voyage to the Far East aboard the Pyrrhus. Lowry arrived from Dairen before sailing onto Keelung.

Lowry refers to the port in his novel Ultramarine; "He was thinking of the first time he had seen Andy in the booth, where he had been talking about a girl at Tsintao, on the bathing beach there." (Pg. 25); "A white motor boat came curtsying out of the harbour, rolling nearer and nearer: as she rounded the stern of the Oedipus Tyrannus her name was visible, Mabel-Tsintao." (Pg. 28); "In Tsintao I defrauded a Chinaman of a bottle of Batavian arak, weeping afterwards, when he refused publicly, to shake hands with me." (Pg. 93/94) and " 'Aw, you mean Tsintao, boy' ' No, I don't mean Tsintao' 'E means Tsintao all the bloody same.' (Pg. 161).

Stan Hugill in his book recalls the sailortown area of Tsingtao:

Tsingtao, in China, having been taken over by the Japanese after the First world war, was in these days very Japanese in character, although the imprint of its previous owner, Germany- with a dash of Russian, and a bottom layer of China - was also present. In the early thirties it was quite a busy port and consequently had many drinking dives fro seamen. The first one, outside the dock gates, was the Port Lunch. Up the Kuan Hsieh and Liao Cheng Roads stood many more , with brothels in Lin Hsing Road. Here we give some of the better known of these joints: cafe Ginza, the Korean Bar, Sapporo Cabaret, Slick's Bar, Jimmy's Bar, Bright Eyes, Kismet, the St. France, the Kiharu Baru, and the New Bluejacket Bar.

In the Lin Hsing Road were the 'cages' with Japanese joro gazing outwards while they knitted, embroidered, or chatted to each other. Korean kisnangs or Geisha, all of whom, unlike Japanese Geisha, were harlots, were also to be found in houses in this street. (Sailortown Pg.332).

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