Weifang is located in the central-east of the province and is proudly the Kite Capital of the world, but there is more to Weifang than just this. A developed, small-sized city of about 1 million people, it is growing rapidly while still retaining a recognizable local atmosphere. It’s a calm and inviting place to live, an easy place to navigate and friendly to walkers and bike-riders alike. Connected to the rest of the province by highway and the fast-train network, it’s simple enough to travel to Qingdao (70 minutes) or Jinan (90 minutes), or to the nearby country towns or mountains, such as Yun Men Shan, or Yi Shan, the ‘East Mt Tai.’
Located right in between the historic cities of Jinan and Qingdao in Shandong Province, Weifang is an idealistic place to live if one plans to travel around Shandong. Being a mere hour and a half by train from Jinan and perhaps two from Qingdao, Weifang presents an opportunity to see more than just Weifang itself. Shandong province is one of the more historic provinces in China, and, as such, has a variety of monuments, parks, and museums worth exploring. Most notably, Shandong province is the home of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, whose teachings of thousands of years ago are still felt in Chinese society today. Museums dedicated to ancient Confucianism as well as the various historic periods of which Shandong has been a part seem to dot the various cities of the province, all of which make excellent weekend destinations.
Weifang Aston has been open since 2008. We are situated right in the middle of town on Heping Lu, which follows the path of the Bailang river. We are on the river’s west side, where the riverfront has just recently been redeveloped into a new boardwalk of restaurants and shops with a pretty good RT Mart beneath. If you walk from school along the path next to the river you will come across Renmin Park, but if you keep walking, these paths follow any of the three rivers which criss-cross the city and are a cool, bamboo-surrounded alternative for walking about Weifang. Furthermore we also have the famous Small Goods Market nearby - four floors of bargain shopping for just about anything.
The school itself is on the corner of Heping Lu and Minsheng Jie, on the fourth floor of the Bank of Communications building. You can find lunch easily on a snack street to the front of our school, or on another with restaurants and bbq stands behind, and along the road-front there plenty of shops for lunch. Jusco shopping center just opposite houses a McDonald’s and KFC as well. We are presently home to 2 foreign teachers and five Chinese teachers, and with an expanding student base, plan to grow soon.
Weifang itself shares a part of Shandong’s rich history, having been the birth place of Emperor Shun of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors period, as well as that of many other Confucian scholars and politicians. Due to this rich history, Weifang does not lack in historical sites, among which include Shihu Garden and Fangong Pavilion.
Several other tourist attractions are also located in Weifang’s immediate vicinity. Mount Yi is a two hour bus ride from the city, and is locally famous for good food. For the adventurous at heart, it is possible to stay the night in a local farmer’s home for a relatively cheap price. Mount Qingyun is an hour away from the city, and makes a great day trip, while the Old Dragon Spring is perhaps two hours away by bus.
Known for its strong winds, Weifang is the self-styled kite capital of the world. Kites of all kinds are a common sight in the skies of Weifang, from the smallest glider kite to the largest dragon.
Numerous kite shops abound the streets, and the city maintains a kite museum and park not fifteen minutes from Aston. It is here that Weifang holds its annual international kite festival. A pride of the city, Weifang’s kite festival is well-known throughout China. It is usually held in April.
As in most of Shandong, weather in Weifang is divided into four seasons. The winter is cold and subject to the occasional snowfall, with temperatures dropping below freezing at times. Spring and autumn are mild, if occasionally wet. Summer can get rather warm, with temperatures climbing into the mid-high 30s. Strong winds prevail throughout the entire year.
Food in Weifang is largely typical Shandong and Chinese cuisine. Noodle restaurants are common, as are various rice dishes. Aston itself is located on a street commonly occupied by a variety of street food vendors that sell several different noodle dishes, Chinese deep-fried tortilla wraps, and Chinese hamburgers. In the summer, the barbecue is nothing short of amazing, and is cheap enough to become standard faire for an evening meal. Like most Chinese cities, Weifang also has its fair share of Sichuan restaurants, McDonalds, and KFCs. As Weifang neighbors Qingdao, many Weifang restaurants will carry Qingdao (Tsingtao) beer, though several local brews are also available.
The night life in Weifang is not incredible, but acceptable. Angel Western Bar is but a twenty minute walk from Aston (or a 6RMB taxi ride), and serves most kinds of Western liquor in a quiet atmosphere reminiscent of Sinatra times. California Western Bar, a tad further than Angel Bar and in another direction, is a little bit more rowdy, with live music and a livelier atmosphere. There are several dance clubs in Weifang, some of which are perhaps five minutes from the apartments. KTVs practically litter the streets; sometimes, one feels as if one could throw a stone and hit four or five of them.
Aston Weifang currently maintains two apartments for its staff, both within walking distance of the school and any number of local restaurants and nightlife. Shopping is a mere one minute walk for the nearest apartment and only a five minute walk for the furthest. Both are about fifteen minutes from the local bar & restaurant street and Weifang’s most popular shopping centre.
The first apartment is situated 10-15 minutes’ walk from school. It has two well-lit bedrooms and a nice, large living area, a kitchen with everything you need for cooking, a study, bathroom and laundry room, plus a sunroom. It’s on a street with plenty of eating options, and where you can catch bus 30 to school by Jusco Shopping Center, and bus 31 which goes to RT Mart.
The other apartment is ten minutes’ walk from school, or just two bus stops away. It is on the 4th floor and also has two large bedrooms, a central living area, a study and bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. Each bedroom has a south-facing balcony as well. This apartment is inside a quiet courtyard, and from here you can catch any of buses 63, 16 or 77 to school.
Each apartment is stocked with the basic necessities such as TV, comfortable furniture, washing machine and microwave, following the Aston rules which are a part of your contract.