Monday, February 22, 2010
Hainan Island was everything Huangshan wasn't. We were warm, comfortable, well-fed, and unambitious. We stayed in a beautiful resort (albeit with a weird Aztec theme), along with a slew of Koreans and Russians escaping the harsh winter back home. Because of my ankle, the most I exerted myself was paddling about in the South China Sea in between stints in the cabana. I was pleased not to have to sleep in my clothes for warmth or slug beer for carbs because of being low on food. And since at that point I never cared to see another hiking trail again, I was quite happy to share golf cart rides to the beach with well-oiled Russians.
I'd love to report on something of cultural interest here, but this is all I have to offer:
First, the buffet at the resort. Maybe it shows the degree of my shallowness to remember such a thing so fondly, but please, hear me out. For the equivalent of about $20 USD per person, which is actually pretty expensive by Chinese standards, we ate piles of local seafood, Korean barbecue, Russian pastries, anything you could want in kabob form, various south Chinese delicacies, and random things like bread pudding and pizza. And it was all good. And then there was the beer, fresh brewed right there in the room and included in the price. Who gives Russian tourists unlimited beer? Once we watched a Korean woman and her son, who looked to be about ten, take their frosty mugs to the one of the giant kegs. The mother expertly drew her beer and returned to her table, but the son struggled with the tap. I saw a waiter rush over, and I thought for sure he would tell the boy he was too young for alcohol. Instead, he helped him draw a nice mug of beer, and the boy sat down with his mom and drank it. I watched him, It wasn't for anyone else. I was too busy ravishing plate loads of fresh shrimp to be troubled much.
The second thing that struck me was the difference in beach behavior among the various groups. The Russians, men and women both, wore the tiniest swimwear possible, regardless of their physique. Some of the women in bikini bottoms would roll up the back and stuff it in their cracks to make an improvised thong before taking a stroll across the beach. The Koreans came ready for sport, and made the most of the sand and water before them. For example, the only tourists I saw in scuba gear the entire time I was there were Koreans. The young Chinese couples favored matching Hawaiian outfits or 1950's style swimwear, and mostly took pictures of each other while strictly avoiding the key elements of the beach: sun and water. They didn't seem to be having much fun, but maybe the Russians and Koreans had enough fun for everyone. Drew and I just lounged around and waited for the buffet. A sampling of Chinese and Russian beach fashion is below.
After our all too brief time on the island came to an end, we flew back up to Shanghai, where I'd planned to end my trip in a glorious explosion of shopping. Instead, I came down with the swine flu and was bed-ridden the entire time. After 3 1/2 weeks abroad, I flew home with a blackened ankle and infested lungs and begin the process of recovering from my vacation.
Joan from the excellent Pacific Northwest Gardening blog I'm in the Garden Today notified me (via the fabulous UK garden blog Simon's Allotment ) that the comments function on my blog hasn't been working. I've fixed the problem, but I apologize if anyone wasn't able to get through. If so, please try again! I love comments!