Hainan

Have you ever considered a beach holiday in China? Well, it has never crossed my mind before. I wouldn’t have thought of spending time at the beach in China until my family decided to make a trip there to visit relatives. I was told Hainan island is like a Hawaii for the local Chinese. Surprisingly, there are many 5 and 6-star beach resorts on this island. I must say, I was pretty impressed with the resorts. Although, the journey there was tiring and mentally exhausting.

 

Sanya Intercontinental Resort, HaiTang Bay, Hainan, China

Sanya Intercontinental Resort, HaiTang Bay, Hainan, China

The main attraction where the beach resorts are is at the south of the island. Sanya ( 三亚), is one of the cities located in the south. There are other cities along the coast nearby, which are developing rapidly into popular, high-end beach resorts. The hotel we stayed at, Sanya Intercontinental Resort, is located in Hai Tang Bay (海棠湾), one of the five major bays in Sanya. I remember being stressed out planning this trip. First, my parents did not want to risk staying at a 3-star local Chinese hotel or resort. Apparently, they are terrible and not reliable in terms of cleaniness and who knows what other surprises they may bring. Therefore, we had no choice but to burn a hole in our pockets to stay at a newer resort, at least a hotel of well-known reputation internationally. My relatives live in the town of Lingshui, which is about a 25 minute drive from Hai Tang Bay. We planned our route such that we fly in to Haikou ()/Meilan International Airport, which is the city at the north of the island. There were more flight options to Haikou than to Sanya. Flights going into Sanya were limited, and you would have to transit in Guangzhou, of which from my uncle and mom’s experience, is super exhausting due to the flight delays from the domestic Chinese airway. Transit is at least a 4-6 hour wait. It’s crazy, and I did not want experience it, especially travelling with a toddler. From Haikou, there is a high-speed train that will take us to Lingshui in about 1:15 hours. At Lingshui, my mother had arranged her relatives to pick us, and drive us to our hotel. Now that I think about it, taking the train was probably a bad idea with us having so many luggage. Plus, one clingy baby. And a baby stroller. It was quite inconvenient, contrary to what we believe. There was no other choice except to get a driver to pick us from Haikou and drive 2.5 hrs to Hai Tang Bay. We did not want to trouble our relatives this way.

Sanya Intercontinental Resort with beach view

Sanya Intercontinental Resort with beach view

Anyway, that wasn’t the worse part. Dealing with the locals who were not courteous and also rude was more daunting. I don’t know why they wanted to use the elevator to get to one level down to the train platform when they could have easily used the escalator. Elevators are meant for people like me travelling with children in strollers, and for those in a wheelchair! If you can drag your luggage down the escalator then you should, buddy! Moreover, they are not ashamed of jumping the queue. My dad and us were already lining up to enter the elevator when this ignorant man came rushing from the escalator to join a couple of his friends to use the elevator. He bumped into my dad just to get in front. Of course, my dad was furious! Oh my, I thought a fight was going to start … Clearly, these folks had no idea how to use an elevator. They were so afraid of the elevator getting stuck. As the elevator started beeping, they tell you to get out because you’ve exceeded the weight limit when the true cause was they kept pressing the door open button. And they’re so rushed about getting to the train, entering the train, exiting the train. What’s the hurry?? We bought the first class seats, and because nobody checks, people just sit on them if they’re empty. Never mind that, except they would give you the sour face if you explain to them that it is your rightful seat because you’ve paid for it.

Well, enough of my rant – that part of the trip certainly was not fun.

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Night view from hotel room at Sanya Intercontinental Resort, Hainan, China

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Aquarium feature at Sanya Intercontinental Resort

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The aquarium restaurant at Sanya Intercontinental Resort

Everything else was decent. My daughter enjoyed the lovely hotel. A big spacious room to run around and explore. A fun bathtub outside on the patio where she can have a bubble bath. We could not swim in the pool much because the water was really cold, and it was quite rainy too. The wind would blow the dark clouds by and then we all had to quickly take shelter from the intermittent downpour. The beach was nice. Long and clean. Although, swimming is not permitted because of the rough seas. There was a nice aquarium restaurant at the hotel, where you can dine in the aquarium tunnel. It was interesting, but because there was no air-conditioning in that part of the restaurant, it was very hot. They had some stand fans, but it wasn’t enough. My daughter enjoyed it though. Oddly, she was more interested in the diver, not the fishes. Overall, the food at the hotel was decent. It wasn’t what I was expecting for a 5-star hotel though.

Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara or Guanyin statue, Hainan, China

Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara or Guanyin statue, Hainan, China

We did take one day to visit the Guanyin (Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara) of the South Sea of Sanya, which is located near the Nashan Temple at Sanya. My mom’s relatives generously drove us around and spent time with us there. Be warned, this park is HUGE. Just pay for the private tour buggy, which brings you to each stop and you can take your time to visit the other attractions in the area. The main attraction is of course the 108 meters tall Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara statue. Currently, it is the tallest Guanyin statue in the world. The monument truly was a majestic sight. We did not enter the temple, which was situated at the bottom of the monument because the lineup was way too long. All we did was prayed with incense and bought some red amulets to write our wishes on and tie to the fences the base of the monument. My family also purchased some fishes to release them back to sea. This practice is very common in Buddhism as the act of releasing animals who are due to be slaughtered for food, is an act of compassion and kindness.

Animal release (fang sheng) is a term used by Chinese Buddhists to refer to the practice of purchasing animals that are due to be slaughtered and letting them go. While the rationale for this practice is the Buddha’s teaching of kindness and compassion to all creatures, even the most humble, the earliest evidence of the practice actually comes from the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka. According to the Vinaya, a monk once came across a pig caught in a hunter’s trap and feeling compassion for its plight he released it. By the convention of the time he was guilty of theft. When the matter was brought to the Buddha’s intention he said that from the perspective of the Dhamma the monk had committed no offence because he had acted `out of compassion.’  (karuññena, Vin.III,62). – See more at: http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=504#sthash.7ve515Po.dpuf

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Red Wish Amulets

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Tibetan Buddhist Temple

 

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Tibetan Buddhist Wood Carving Art

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Main Entrance to Nanshan Temple

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The Chinese word “Longevity” Carved on a Rock at Nanshan Temple

That was pretty much my vacation in China this time. I’m not sure if I would go back there unless there’s a family reason to do so. The resorts are beautiful, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that travel-wise proves to be an inconvenience. I’m sure it works for the Chinese residents and expats who are living in China.

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