1. Beach 2, August 2009. Welcome to the sleepy port city of Yantai in Shandong Province. I’d been travelling around Shandong for several weeks when someone recommended Yantai as a pleasant place to head purely for a spell of beach lazing. “The beach isn’t actually up to much,” he admitted with a wry smile. “And the city centre doesn’t have anything going on”. It was quite the sales pitch, but nevertheless I felt fascinated by this seemingly unloved coastal outpost. Most of the visit was spent here on Beach 2 reading; sleeping, swimming and watching people build sandcastles.