Imagine you’re in Hangzhou, you had a couple beautiful days around West Lake, but the weather is supposed to be turning pretty bad throughout the region; cold and wet. What do you do? Change plans a bit, go further afield than planned, and head to the beach!
When you say “the beach” in China, that pretty much means Hainan, an island in the South China Sea east of the Gulf of Tonkin and about the size of Belgium. The rest of the country is too far north to have great or even particularly good beaches (especially this time of year), but Hainan is sort of the Hawaii of China.
When we go to the beach, there’s usually not a lot to write about. The day is pretty much breakfast, reading at the beach or pool, lunch, reading at the beach or pool, dinner, sleep. Repeat. And for the most part that’s what we did. We’re still traveling with my brother Al and his family, and you might guess that eight-year-old Jacob and nine-year-old Sierra had no objections to hanging out in the sun and at the pool. So it was a really laid back six days.The one remarkable thing was just how bad the food was there. The place we stayed was pretty much completely isolated; there was nothing anywhere near where we were and so we ate at the resort. Limited choices, and what there was wasn’t very good. Now, Sierra & Jacob loved their PB&Js and hot dogs, so they certainly weren’t complaining. And Al was happy that such limited choices and modest quality was a great incentive to limit his intake. Otherwise, though, there’ll be no pictures of great food. None of great drinks, either. When you go to the bar and ask if they make Martinis, the bartender is supposed to know that a Martini is not just the Martini-brand vermouth.
At Anita’s instigation, we did one fun day trip outside the resort. We hired a car and went first to the Guanyin of the South Sea, a 350-foot statue of a bodhisattva (an enlightened person) on the south coast of the island. We’ve seen a lot of buddha-type stuff in our travels, but this one was pretty good: a great location on the coast and really tall. Then we went up some big hill to a really good Thai restaurant for lunch. After days at the resort with food that was mediocre at best, this was a real treat.
So that was it. A lot of time at the beach and pool, lots of chances for the kids to run around and have fun, lots of reading. From here we’re off to Chengdu, one of the fastest growing cities on earth.