After several days of intermittent rains, it was nice to finally have a day of clear blue sky and bright warm sunshine. For just a little bit, I felt like I was back in Santa Barbara. That is for the weather. Sanya is about as tourist as you can get: a mix of catering locals, mainland Chinese tourists, westerners looking for the warmest part of China and ever-so-cold-faced Russians partially thawing out.
It is always good to start the day off in China with a filling Chinese breakfast: noodles and/or dumplings. One thing I was impressed with in this region is the hot pepper sauce (the yellow jar in the background). This stuff is seriously smoking hot and kicks over any pepper sauce I have had in Shanghai. It must be a regional specialty as I have not seen it anywhere else in China.
Motor bike taxi is the best way to get around for distances that are a bit too far or inconvenient to walk or places that are too close for a regular automobile taxi. The later being a notorious problem in China (for Westerners at least). Most taxi drivers won’t even pick you up unless you are going 5 or more kilometers away. I live about 3 kilometers from the famous Bund in Shanghai, but no taxi driver will take me there. The trip is too short and they don’t make enough money. It was a fabulous day for a motorbike ride:
The water around here is pretty nice. It isn’t crystal clear or warm like Thailand, but it is a welcome change from the nastiness that permeates from most lakes, rivers and shores on the mainland. This is at low tide along one of the more isolated (and rocky) beaches.
This is a huge resort area. This is unfortunate for the nomadic traveler such as myself because most all of the nice beaches in this area are private. Wealthy Russians and other affluents flock here by the droves and stay in their nice private towers. Many of the signs are in Cryillic (Russian):
Sneaking onto the resort beaches for guests only usually isn’t a problem. If you look like you stay there or pretend you are going to eat at the resort restaurant, nobody will sweat you. This place had a nice pool if the ocean is just a bit too cold for you.
Weddings are quite popular around these parts. I must have seen 30 or so couples throughout my day capturing their perfect wedding pictures with a professional photographer.
After a long beach exploration, checking out a few other resorts and golf courses, a bit of wading, beach combing and people watching; it was time to seek out some food back near the main strip. One thing that is a huge affair here in China is when new businesses open. Many shops or restaurants have fireworks, flowers, lavish costumes, dragon dancers and large drums to celebrate the event. One issue that I have with this as a Westerner in China is that these events usually occur at the first opening hour of the business. In Shanghai there is is not a day that goes by that I don’t hear fireworks in the distant background- at 6 or 7am. This event for a new restaurant got quite festive:
For my last night on Hainan Island, I was set out for seafood. I’ve heard from folks around here that these waters have literally been fished out and most all of the seafood here is imported. Still, being by the ocean puts me in a seafood mood and the selection was vast. Pick a fish tank, any fish tank.
Some weather deviations aside, I had a great trip. It was the first time in over a year I had gotten to surf. I would recommend Hainan Island if you are in China and you need a close get-away to the beach. It is incredibly cheap to fly there from Shanghai (at least for me at this time of year). If you are outside of China, stay away. For a beach trip go to Thailand, Hawaii, Malaysia or a more tropical area. My first half of my trip was to the Guangxi province, which is a must see if you are a Westerner living in China or planning a vacation to the PRC. I quite enjoyed my time there: exploring the stunning karsts, wandering the quaint countryside and biking around Yangshou River Valley (another post on this portion of the trip to follow). It’s time to ring in the New Year back in Shanghai! Homeward bound!!!!