The last leg of my journey was spent on the island of Hainan.
Hainan is China’s second largest island, next to Taiwan.
My motive for visiting was to see an old co-worker who has been living and working in Haikou. 😀With such sweet hospitality, she put me up in her studio apartment, and warmly welcomed me to the Hawaii of China. 😀Traveling around with her as my guide was great, since she took me to all her favorite local eateries, some of the best food I’ve had in China. 🙂
She places high priority on good food and drink, making sure I was always full and satisfied. 🙂
I swear she could’ve been an Italian grandma in her past life. 😛After my food illness in Xi’an, she also taught me the helpful phrase, bu la, which means bland or without spice. As well, she introduced me other other expats, like this Dutch businessman, who was obviously not afraid of spicy foods.
He took me for a ride around old town Haikou while my friend was busy teaching.
You’ll notice a Portuguese influence in the architecture, which is actually a recent renovation in an effort to boost tourism, and improve living standards in Haikou. I almost forgot I was in China until these guys dressed up in a dragon suit came speeding by on their moped, setting off a load of firecrackers. Happy Belated Chinese New Year! 😛Anyway, I was also introduced to a lovely Christian family from California, who after spending 10 years in Brazil, decided to open an organic bakery and jujitsu studio on the island. Their motive for living abroad is to help the existing Christian community. What I found interesting is that foreigners are not allowed to attend church with the Chinese, so instead they use this bakery as a kind of support center, for expats and locals to unite and reflect.
Their cafe was simply stunning, with lovely handcrafted wooden furniture made from sunken pirate ships. They made us delicious turkey sandwiches on freshly baked cranberry walnut rolls. The sammies seemed like a post-Thanksgiving invention. Delicious! 😀While there, I also tried Hainan coffee, cultivated in a volcano crater, rich in minerals from volcanic ash.
Coincidentally, our plan for the day was to visit those volcano craters, and learn more about Hainan’s geological history.
Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark
The geopark has over 40 Quaternary volcanoes, along with volcanic rock and lava tunnels.
The natural landscape within the park was surely impressive.
That being said, some of the structures may have been altered. 😕
Anyway, from there we made our way to Mt. Fengluling Volcano Crater. This volcano erupted over 10,000 years ago, and is now covered in dense tropical vegetation.It’s hard to appreciate its immense size from below, so I found this aerial view on Google. 🙂After crawling inside the crater, we walked up to the viewing platform of Haikou City. Gorgeous! 😀Afterwards we headed towards the exit. Based on the signs, they must have a lot of Russian tourists here.
Also, I’m apparently the only one who reads signs. 😛Cost: 10 USD for park access, plus 9 USD for round-trip transport.
Now, since Hainan is an island, my experience in Haikou would not have been complete without a day at the beach.What a cultural experience that was! 😛
My idea of a day at the beach. 😀
The Chinese idea of a beach day. 😛In Asia, most women idolize fair skin, a sign of wealth and beauty, and even use skin whiteners to enhance results.
In my opinion, a little Vitamin D does the body good, and I prefer to beautify myself in other ways. 😀
Case in point: we spent the last day in Haikou getting our hair washed and cut at a local salon.
Cost: The wife of the bakery treated us girls. What a sweetheart! ❤
Anyway, for our last meal together, we enjoyed an eclectic array of local fare, including fried noodles with dried strawberries. Absolutely phenomenal! 😀As well, we sampled honey chicken wings, and finally bamboo shoots mixed with intestines. After glamming up post-meal, we took in a fancy cocktail at the newly opened Hilton Hotel.Since the hotel had just opened, I found the drinks to be very overpriced, but sometimes you pay for the ambiance. 🙂
Overall, I had a spectacular time in Haikou, and truth be told, before now, I had only known of the similar sounding haiku. 😛
Final Thoughts on China
My advice for anyone traveling in China, or planning to travel here is: take each experience with a grain of salt. This country is so diverse, that all experiences are self-contained, and not reflective of the whole nation. Enjoy the positive, laugh off the negative, and live in suspense of what the next day will bring.
There are many provinces in China I have yet to explore and you can guarantee I’ll be returning in the future to visit them. That’s all for now, folks. Enjoy your week and until next time. 🙂