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Published: October 16th 2012
Oct. 14. We were sad to say goodbye to our fellow travelers. Everyone had gotten along well, and we had shared so many adventures together. Michael, of course, had been a fantastic and entertaining guide. We hope our paths will cross again.
Wayne and I got a ride on our tour bus with several others flying out of Hong Kong at about the same time. We, however, are not getting onto a 13-hour flight, at least not yet. We flew an hour and a half to Sanya, Hainan Island, the "Hawaii" of China. We had been invited by the Jin family, Wayne's student Jin Wang and his parents. Their home is on the north side of Hainan, but they thought we would enjoy the tourist attractions on the south side, so they put us up in some VERY nice hotels for two nights, drove us everywhere and hired a local guide.
Our first stop was the Nanshan temple and tourist resort. Here the climate is tropical, so we needed to slow down and put on our sunscreen and stop for frequent coconut drinks. Everywhere we looked there were new roads and new hotels being built. This is a tourist
Mecca for Chinese and Russians escaping winter weather, and coastal real estate is skyrocketing. The newness of the roads confused our GPS several times, which led to some U-turns and detours on rutted dirt roads that were in sharp contrast to the highways so brand new that they didn't have proper stop signs or traffic signals yet.
Our party of seven (Wang's family plus two of their friends and we) shareda meal family style at a seafood restaurant where you point out the live shrimp, crabs and fish that you want cooked for you. New to us we're a custard cooked in a sea urchin, steamed grouper, and a dessert soup made in a papaya shell, which Wang said had gecko(?) in it. Quite a feast and a lot of fun. We kept Wang busy translating and had some laughs over our different customs.
As if all this weren't luxury enough, Wang, Li, Wayne and I then waddled into a "foot massage" shop for what turned out to be a 100-minute massage of pretty much the whole body. It started with a hot foot bath to which medicinal herbs were added. After a few minutes we realized the
bath had solidified, so we now had a hot jello foot bath. Very relaxing! We just wondered a bit about what our masseuses kept chatting and laughing about, "My client has chicken legs! Mine has cellulite - hee hee!" We felt completely pampered when we got to the Grand Soluxe Hotel & Resort Sanya and saw our enormous room with balcony overlooking the sea. Unfortunately we didn't have time to use the private beach, multiple pools and mineral baths, including a "fish therapy" where you sit in a pool with little minnows who nibble off your dry skin patches - Ew!
Oct. 15. This morning we took a walk though the Yanoda Rainforest Park. This is another newly-developed tourist attraction with top facilities. The forest is beautiful, and I recognized many plants from my Australian rainforest days. One thing I didn't have back then was a zip line. It might have been a good way to spy on the tree kangaroos. We had to try it here, and it was pretty thrilling and just scary enough zooming over the forest below. My hands were kind of sore afterward, so I must have been hanging on for dear life without
After that we took a quick ferry ride over to Wu Zhi Zhou Island, a popular place for diving and water sports. It was too hot to do very much at that point, and we decided our hotel pool/beach would be a more convenient place to get wet and sandy, so we sat in the shade and shared a huge mango and some papaya and jackfruit. Wish we could get tropical fruit this fresh at home!
Now on to our second great hotel, the Ritz Carlton Sanya. Wow, first class all the way! The pool seemed never-ending. First-floor suites each had a hot tub and personal steps leading into the pool. The buffet breakfast was the biggest we've ever seen with about six different stations for fruit, fresh-squeezed juices, bakery items, cereals, sushi, traditional Chinese items, eggs, bacon, salad, smoked meats and fish, dim sum, Indian breads,...pretty overwhelming! A nice send-off.
We were sad to leave the island and our generous hosts. What a beautiful part of China that few foreigners get to see.
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