The Twelve Days of Hăinán

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‘Come to the Hawaii of the East!’ is the slogan that reads on numerous billboards that advertise Hăinán as China’s premier holiday destination. I certainly wasn’t expecting any Polynesian men in skirts, playing tiny guitars or a tropical paradise for that matter, but it’s hot and has a coast. So after months of travelling in sub-zero temperatures and wearing wet kegs (through lack of drying facilities of course) Hăinán seems the perfect way to spend Christmas.

Hăinán’s capital, Hăikou (literally meaning mouth of the sea) is a booming city with few sights. Walking through a dirty food market in the afternoon I was faced with some shock horror, live cats, in cages waiting to be butchered. I was informed that eating cats is not a common practice in China, but it does happen. Coming across something like this at some point was bound to happen, but actually seeing it in person was strange indeed. They say cats have nine lives, obviously only one in China…

On our way to the coastal town of Bó’ào, we decided to get out of a taxi in the middle of nowhere after realising we were getting charged extortionate ‘skin tax’ for the ride. Stuck in a small shop completely clueless how to get to Bó’ào, it was time to pull out our secret weapon, Sherman. A local guide we met in Hăikou, Sherman said we could call him in times of need or whenever lost in translation. Within minutes of making the call we were on our way, so from now on, if all else fails use the Sherman call. ‘Sherman, Sherman, Sherman, Sherman , Sherman!’ (in the style of Mrs.Klump).

Bó’ào’s mostly deserted beach was a nice place to spend the afternoon, and also a nice place to get sunburn. The top end of the beach seems to be getting washed away just as quickly as the main town is being developed…

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All of a sudden what used to be so difficult, is now so easy. How can I explain to the non English hotel receptionist I want to climb Hăinán’s highest peak but leave by bags in the hotel? Sherman it. Wuzhishān (five finger mountain) is naturally surrounded by the local folklore of one of Hăinán’s main ethnic groups, the Li. The five peaks are said to represent the Li people’s five most powerful gods…

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The seven hour trek through jungle like terrain was a gruelling task. Up huge ladders, along the side of a cliff, through mosquito ridden vegetation, I felt like Desmond from Lost traipsing across the island whilst dodging the smoke monster and giant polar bears…

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After all the hard work I could not wait to reach the summit to admire the breath taking panorama. The end was in sight, I was ready for it, here we go… I nearly collapsed in awe at the amazing view of…MIST, nothing but mist! The only view we got was seeing a group of chain smoking Chinese adolescents posing by a pile of rubbish. Five finger mountain #two finger mountain. See you in another life brother…

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I done a quick puppet show at the summit with the new mascots ‘Donatello and the Cactus’

Christmas was spent in Sanya, Hăinán’s prime beach resort. High rise apartments and Cyrillic signs for the Russian holiday makers give the place a more exclusive feel. There’s no history, culture or local food to mention at all, but little note on budgeting. Expensive resorts will charge you to use their pools. Sit by the pool until they send someone over, more often than not the attended will only speak Chinese and Russian. By the time an English speaker arrives to explain the situation. It’s time to leave anyway. Things are always much more fun when they’re free, Merry Christmas Suckers!

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Sanya’s one worth while site, the amazing upside down fish!

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Categories: Budgeting, China | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The Twelve Days of Hăinán

  1. Garry it looks like the most non appealing place you have visited and by your words it seems you agree. Seen plenty of those upside down fish floating in goldfish bowls on many a fair ground. Have a peaceful, happy and healthy new year. Enjoy.

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