I can hear the editors in newsrooms all over the world this summer barking orders to their China-based correspondents: “GRAB YOUR CAMERA AND GET TO THE BEACHES IN QINGDAO. WE NEED A STORY ON THE SWIMMERS WEARING NYLON FACE MASKS. NOW!”
There may indeed be other news-worthy events in China this summer — a certain trial of the wife of a certain former official; a certain meeting of officials at another beach (I wonder if they are wearing these as well — but these masked figures on the beaches of Qingdao seem to have become the story of the summer for much of the western press here.
One way to avoid the dangerous rays of the sun is to stay indoors, another is to apply a healthy layer of sun cream and slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
If you’re in China, however, there is a third option – a ‘Face-Kini’ complete with a body suit.
The name describes a protective head mask that is being used in Shandong province’s East China Sea coast by beach-goers who want to protect their skin from the sun.
It’s probably best not to view these just before going to bed.
I joined the fray and wrote about them in July in a post titled Swimming Masks.
One commenter wrote asking where they could be purchased. This Daily Mail article notes a price for the masks, so I’m guessing that they are being sold in the shops and stalls that line the beaches in Qingdao.