Wednesday, December the 23rd, as soon as my last class of the day ended, I rushed backed to my apartment, grabbed my pre-packed suitcase and scooted off campus with Kelly. We took the maglev to the airport and after check-in, quick dinner and a little waiting we flew off to Hainan island.
Getting off the plane was SO NICE. Shanghai doesn’t get as cold as my home outside, but indoor heating isn’t so good and the humid cold goes right to your bones. We walked off the plane and suddenly it felt like a balmy summer night.
I had checked ahead of time and one website said that from Sanya airport to Yalong Bay (where our hotel was) should be a quick ride and about 30kuai. LIES. I bargained around with a bunch of drivers (some guy with an unmarked car tried to get us to go with him. Umm..no) but the cheapest I could get was 100kuai. Then found out that Yalong bay is about 40 minutes away. Ahh.
We ended up staying at a 5 star Holiday Inn right on the beach. It was the most expensive hotel in China I have ever stayed in, but it was totally worth it. The first night there after checking in we decided to just get to sleep. It was almost midnight and we wanted to have an early day.
Christmas Eve we woke up and decided to take a walk around the area and see what we were working with.
We had a quick breakfast at the hotel (banana pancakes and an omelet split between us), found a little market down the street and then walked along the beach back to our hotel room to change into our suits. We got out to the beach around 10am and didn’t leave until around 4pm. Our plan was to spend the first day at the beach and we stuck to it.
The hotel had roped off a part of the beach that only the guest could use. If you stepped beyond that it was likely you would be bombarded by people offering everything from boat rides and scuba lessons to pearl necklaces. In all our time on the beach I think I saw only about 5 other foreigners, so we did draw a bit of attention. Especially Kelly in her bikini. People didn’t even try to hide that they were taking pictures.
That first day I mostly swam, laid out in the sun, collected shells and bits of coral, read or walked up and down the beach taking pictures. Kelly and I also each ordered a Pina Colada around noon. Writing this blog entry in my FREEZING apartment while trying to remember the heat of the Sanya sun on my skin makes for a jarring juxtaposition.
The beach was lovely. The water seemed pretty clear and warm. The sand was soft and white. The sky was a lovely and clear blue and the air seemed fresh. So different from the hazy sky and smoggy air of Shanghai.
After spending all day in the sun, we were both a bit wiped and a little sun burned. We cleaned up and after resting for a bit, we decided to go to Sanya city for some seafood. A guy working at the hotel (whose English name was Harvey and for some reason we found that hilarious) got us a taxi and after talking to him a bit he said he would help us to get a driver to hit all the main tourist spots for the next day.
After getting to Sanya city, we wandered around for a bit until we found a place that looked fancy enough to eat. I had heard horror stories about people getting sick from the seafood in Sanya so we wanted to be safe. We ate at a hotel and the restaurant was literally empty, which gave me pause at first, but the food was REALLY good. We ordered some coconut shrimp (my favorite by far), some roasted beef, Hainan style veggies, crab soup and coconut rice. We ate and ate and ate until we were in pain since it was so delicious.
We wandered around a bit more, ended up buying a whole bunch of Hainan style fruit candies (for ourselves and our coworkers) and then grabbed a taxi to get back to the hotel. When we got back, we each found a Christmas stocking on our pillow, which was a really nice surprise.
It had cookies, candies and nuts. I thought it was really sweet of the hotel to do that. We watched a little Indiana Jones on TV and then went to sleep so we would be rested for our full day on Christmas!