Sanya, Hainan Island

I wanted to combine a trip to a beach resort with a search for a Chinese language school in Sanya. Billed as the Florida of China, it has actually become a place where many Chinese retire, fleeing the cold winters in the north. There were reports that some local government officials were not too pleased with that, since they hoped to attract tourists with thick wallets. There is an area a bit north of Sanya populated by expensive, high-rise hotels, and when I went there one afternoon to take a look, I couldn’t even get through the grounds of the various hotels to the beach.

The hostel I wanted to stay at was fully booked for the first half of my trip, so I stayed in a one up the hill. Nothing great to look at from the outside, but quite a pleasant place.

There was the usual mixture of a few friendly foreigners, including one who was preparing to bicycle back to Europe. It was nice to be able to go out to eat with them, since we could order several different dishes to share.

The neighborhood had not yet experienced the gentrification affecting areas nearer the beach.

Typical apartment building nearer the beach

However, there were some nice places not far from the beach with stands selling typical food and fruit.

Jiaozi and baozi, my favorites!

Of course, there were also other restaurants offering exotic delicacies:

The uncle of the guy running the first hostel was very friendly and invited to a dinner, which he prepared.

He drank baijiu (Chinese hard liquor), which I declined. We then went into town where we had some more beer at a large plaza.

A rock band was performing, although we didn’t stay for long and continued to a local bar. The uncle was soon extremely drunk and attempted to engage women in conversations, needless to say without any luck. We got him outside into a bicycle taxi and told the driver where to let him out. Although we paid the driver, he got the fare a second time from the uncle upon arriving at the hostel. The poor guy had a terrible hangover the next day and swore he would never drink baijiu again.

Down near the beach, a shopping mall also had signs in Russian, attesting to the many Russian tourists there.

The beach was quite nice and not even that crowded. Most Chinese seemed not able to swim and stayed near the shoreline.

It was surprising at one end of the beach that there were many old men sunbathing and swimming naked (I didn’t take any pictures there).

And – as an added advantage – I met Shawn (on the left) who became a good friend and with whom I spent a bit of time the following years in Yangshou. Wonder where he is now?!

2 thoughts on “Sanya, Hainan Island

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