Hainan Island - May 19-21, 2006

Written by Jul 5, 2006 04:07
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Visit to my 'hometown'

May 19 Guangzhou to Hainan Island (Haikou) - Took the airport shuttle bus, only RMB17/pax (RMB40/pax if you book it through hotel). The bus journey was about an hour as it made 2-3 stops to pick up passengers at other hotels.

Flew to Hainan (Haikou) - our ancestors' place
We were met at the airport by Edwin, a relative from Singapore (who was also on holiday in Hainan Island - fancy meeting him here when we have not met for years!). After we checked in at the Xin Yuan Hot-Spring Hotel (haha.. see funny story below), all of us trudged into our rental car (RMB300/day) to start our 'home-coming' journey. First stop was at a riverside restaurant for lunch. It was a feast! - we ordered authentic Hainanese cuisine of Dongshan lamb, Wenchang chicken, steamed Hele crabs, steamed shrimps, steamed fish, hot steaming pot of bitter-gourd soup, sauteed vegetables ..... The riverside ambience was very relaxing - a nice scenic place to savour the culinary delights of Hainan Island.

Next was the highlight of this tour - a visit to our ancestors' place. Edwin, his papa and step-brother joined us on this rendevouz. From another village, an old sprightly lady of about 80 years old rode pillion for 30 minutes on a rocky path just to meet up with me - her half-sister. We have never met but she's a carbon copy of her mother - sweet and gentle (mother and son joined my papa in Singapore but this daughter was left behind in China).

Wow! At long last, I got to see, with my own eyes, the very place that my papa built his 'empire' - we only heard of it during our childhood days (not too long ago .... hehehe....). and had always cherished the dream to visit it one day. Today, 19 May 2006, marked that day!

For 50 long years till today, the descendants in Singapore did not go back to Hainan Island to lay claim on the house, a shop and the land that we owned. It is quite a sizeable area of roughly 10 football fields but scattered over a few plots. With years of neglect, my papa's 'castle' (he came back only twice to visit) is now quite dilapidated. A few 'relatives' and neighbours had already encroached on our land - one even built a huge mansion just next to our 'castle'!

Looking at the inhabitable surroundings (there is no water pipes and one needs to ferry water from the well about 5 minutes away plus the extensive rebuild of the 'castle'), my (hahaha) 'dream' of a retirement home and tapping into the flourishing tourism market had gone up in smoke! eh... eh... any investors willing to pump $$$$ to build a farm stay resort?? ... kekeke....

Okay, the Hot-Spring Hotel story that I promised earlier - Edwin booked us and himself into the Xin Yuan Hot-spring Hotel in Haikou. My pre-conceived idea of a hot-spring resort is what I had gathered from Japan Hour (a TV programme highlighting delightful inns/motels at far-flung villages). It was really funny when I first set eyes on this 'hot-spring' resort - it is smacked in the middle of town and you are supposed to 'heat up' your bath tub - meaning: turn on the hot water, sprinkle a package of 'hot-spring' powder (its not free though) and presto! that's your hot-spring!!! Didn't try it as the bath tub was small and didn't look inviting.

Edwin treated us to a delightful western dinner at a nearby restaurant where a pianist played soothing tunes while we dined. Within the vicinity at nite, there were many hookers (mostly in their 30s and from other provinces). Apparently, the local girls would ply their sex trade in other provinces for fear of being recognised in their hometown. Most of the young and educated girls would have moved away and joined the commercial world in other parts of China.

May 20 @ Hainan Island (Sanya)
From a corporate rate of RMB208 per nite at the Xin Yuan Hot-Spring Hotel, we escaped to the beautiful beach resort of Sanya. It took us 3½ hrs (by express deluxe bus that came with a toilet - very comfortable and only RMB80/pax). We didn't opt for the taxi service (RMB400 quoted by hotel) as you couldn't really stretch yourself for the long journey and did not have the luxury of a 'travelling toilet'.

From the bus station, we took a cab (RMB50) to Sanya Hilton (newly opened in March). We had booked the golf package - RMB3000 for 2 nites, green fees for 2 at Yalong Bay Golf Club and 2 breakfasts. The hotel has its own man-made beach (with beach volleyball in place) and a private stretch at Yalong Bay. Lots of lovely landscaping and many inviting pools/outdoor jacuzzis. Our room on the ground level faces the pools and attap pavilions. It comes with a stand-alone designer bath-tub smacked in the middle and the décor is tasteful. We had buffet dinner at the hotel - very pleasant experience as we were served by an excellent team of service staff at Big Kitchen Restaurant.

May 21 @ Hainan Island (Sanya)
Had breakfast at its Big Kitchen Restaurant. Good food and as usual, friendly service. Took hotel buggy to Yalong Bay Golf Club (just 2 minutes away). The course was in the World Digest Top 100 (outside US) but we didn't find it interesting (the 2 courses that we played in Guangzhou were much more enjoyable).

After golf, we went 'hotel-crawling'. First stop was the Marriot which is just next door to Sanya Hilton. We had tea there with stunning views of the sea. Our order of Hawaiian pizza came hot and nicely crisped. Very appetizing! Next to Marriot is the Sheraton. Standard room rate for all the 3 hotels averages around RMB1500/nite (around S$300). We considered the Sanya Hilton best of the 3 in terms of aesthetic appeal.

Dinner was at a cozy Chinese restaurant, China Harvest at Sanya Hilton. The restaurant has warm lighting which is very soothing and its a delight ogling at the lovely décor items. We ordered the recommended Hainanese cuisine of steamed Sanya fish, Dongshan lamb with bean sticks, Jiaji duck, asparagus with scallops and a claypot to-fu (beancurd) soup. With tonight's dinner, we had ravished the 4 major specialties of Hainan Island, namely

1. Wenchang Chicken
Raised only in Wenchang County, the chicken has golden claws, jade beak, crisp skin, soft bones and fat but not greasy meat. The Wenchang Chicken is usually quickly boiled to keep its fresh look and original taste. Edwin loves this very much but we found it very tough (like 'Malay' kampung chicken).
2. Dongshan Lamb
A special dish of the Dongshanling (East Mountain) tourist spot. The mutton soup is white, as thick as milk and very nutritious. At Sanya Hilton, we ordered the stewed version which was excellently prepared.
3. Hele Crab
Fried crab with delicious juice, deep-fried crab pie, and crab meat with fresh mushroom are perfect dishes to accompany wine. We had this during lunch, steamed to perfection. Tiny crabs but really sweet.
4. Jiaji Duck
The quickly boiled duck is cut into pieces and eaten with the vinegar, ginger paste and sesame oil sauce. Very refreshing change, like an appetiser.

May 22 morning @ Hainan Island (Sanya)
After breakfast, we headed for the beach. The Sanya beach @ Yalong Bay deservedly earned its nickname, 'Hawaii of the East'. It is clean and spotless, with extra fine sand on its long stretch of beach. We swam, played with the waves and had a very relaxing nap on the warm bed of sand. Yalong Bay has to be enjoyed now before it becomes too crowded like the Hawaii's Waikiki beach. It is also many knots better than the ones at Hua Hin, Thailand and on the eastern side of Mauritius (supposedly the best but very rocky). Sanya beach @ Yalong Bay is a great romantic hide-away - highly recommended! (hmmm.... shouldn't their tourism authorities be giving me some sort of an incentive for this free publicity of their beautiful island?? free airtickets and accom will be nice! anybody reading?? :)

 More Hainan Travel Reviews
1. <A>Hainan on Earth KIMBERLEY Feb 5, 2006 06:02
2. Hainan--A Great Place to Live RMCK from CN Jul 27, 2005 23:07
3. Hainan JACKIE Apr 1, 2004 11:04
Comments (2)


Jul 10, 2006 00:20 Reply


Do make it real soon ...people and place still unspoilt by tourism right now but don't know how long it will last!


Jul 6, 2006 06:52 Reply


Informative write-out. Intend visit Hainan real soon.

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