Sanya is "China's Hawaii". Ok, Hainan in the south is a tropical island, and has a climate more like Vietnam than China. In the 1980s, when the government experimented with special economic zones, Hainan was one of them, but the model Hainan didn't work, and even changing the model to more successful ones didn't work. Hainan simply is to far away. It's so far away that up to the 1930s, one of the local minorities lived a hunter-and-gatherer life in the jungle.So today, Hainan is simply doing tourism. That means: building hotels on a beach. Well, around the hotels, you need to build a city, as there's more infrastructure necessary. And you populate this city with people from elsewhere - migrant workers. Since on Hainan, there are just some hunter-gatherers...
The beach with most action is, according to my guide book, the Dadong beach (Dadonghai). So I book a hotel in this area (on ctrip.com), take a "special offer", but forget to check the exact location. That's a mistake: The hotel is several kilometers away from the actual Daodong beach, and is operated by the Chinese marine. But it's significantly cheaper, the staff is very friendly, but for a tourist hotel not very business-minded.
On the first day, it's raining heavily. I take my umbrella, and explore the city. Most of the city is in the classical chinese state, i.e. not really new (in contrast to the hotels, which are in a pretty good shape). Due to my experience with the parents of my ex-girlfriend, I'm not sure if I should engage with a new girl... but I reckoned without the girls...
The first one asks me from the table next to me at lunch. She and her elder sister are from Sichuan, and work in the hospital here - the elder sister as doctor, she as nurse (the money probably wasn't enough for two girls to study). About Germany, they know Siemens, and the Volkswagen Golf, which the elder sister drives. And they make suggestions what to do in and around Sanya (climb a waterfall in the jungle), and a weather warning: "It's raining every day!" The nurse speaks some English, and looks up all complicated words on her smartphone, about as I do that with Chinese.
At least, it's not raining constantly, as on the first day, but in occasional showers. On the next day, I'm looking around in the morning, eat noodle soup for dinner, and go to the beach in the afternoon. What did I say? Reckoned without the girls? There's another beauty, very young, with a - for Chinese pretty small - bikini, who shows enough interest to talk with me for some time. While we are wave-bathing. Which is of course quite sexy. Her English is about as good as my Chinese. But she's wasting her time on me, and has to leave quickly, when some group leader calls up her group.
I'm still tired, and sleep into the next day, as well. I want to take a jungle tour, and ask on the reception how to get there, and the receptionist girl gives me instructions for backpackers. Well, that's what I can do myself.
And since half of the day is already gone, I just go to the beach on the afternoon. Today, there's little wind, and not many people are on the beach - without wind, wavebathing isn't so much fun.
For the next day, I plan to go to the west island. There's no useful instruction on the internet how to go there, but before I went to the beach on the day before, I'v asked in the yacht port at the boat tour booth how to get there. The reply was "completely wrong place", and I had to take the bus 16, and drive to the last station. So I get into a bus 16, ask the driver, and get redirected to bus 8. In bus 8, my seat neighbor explains me (in pretty good English) that I'm wrong; that bus 8 goes to the airport, but I can jump off the bus and take bus 16 or 25 or maybe a taxi to get where I want.
So I take the taxi, which arrives first, and it isn't that far anyways. The taxi driver receives a commission for buying me a ticket. The trip to the west island takes about 5 minutes, small speed boats carry about 20 tourists a time, and the taxi driver wants to get another commission from the dive club, but I prefer to snorkel.
For such an activity, I've originally bought my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3, which is waterproof up to 12m deep, and that's certainly deeper than you dive while snorkling. But after a few dives, my camera starts to misbehave: the on/off button stops working. And it suggests to "please turn the camera off and on again." Yeah, right. That's exactly what doesn't work! Diagnosis: some water got inside. And with salt water, this means that corrosion will eat through the device. The camera is toast. Ok, 3 years old, shot more than 10k photos... and as backup, I still have my camcorder and the smartphone. And maybe I can buy a replacement.
So I stop snorkling, and join the Chinese who are swimming next to the pier. Or rather not swimming, as only a few can actually swim. Two girls like to have a photo together with me, and then want me to teach them how to swim. Especially the delicate May is quite interested in me, and she is quite upset about the behavior of my ex-girlfriend's mother, "totally unacceptable": It's not the parents who decide, it's love (a very romantic girl). And she knows several friends who married far away, to UK, to Italy, and even further away; even though there's a reunion with the parents only once a year.
We eat together (but with separate bills), exchange cards (she's sales manager in a mosaic shop in Foshan, which I have no idea where it is - but it's next to Guangzhou in the pearl river delta, and "May" is her name for longnoses - I understand 美, "mei", as in "beauty", and use that for some flattery - flattery which is quickly returned, because "you are so handsome!"), and I do drink the coconut milk, but not much of the beer. We flirt a lot and she promises to add me on QQ when she's back. Since it's a bit cold for her, she wears my towel. She came to Sanya with a few coworkers over the weekend, getting driven around in the backseat of a rental car, and doesn't even know the hotel name. Each of us sings a song on the karaoke bar - for 20 yuan each; I choose "Waterloo", but with a slightly different meaning (I was defeated...).
There's ample opportunity to take photos on the island, it is dizzling a bit, and my umbrella is said to be too small for three persons (me, May, and another coworker girl).
Of course they are selling nice souveniers here, and I buy a big shell and a bag of smaller shells. Finally, it's time to leave the island, and before we part, she again promises me to add me on QQ - and I tell her a "nice to meet you" in Chinese, to which she replies three times a "me, too!" in Chinese. She's speaking English quite well, too.
On the next day, I feel a lot better, and I try the jungle adventure. One jungle park is in the Yalong bay, and according to the internet, bus 27 goes there. Bus 27 starts at the other side of Sanya, and I yet haven't seen a bus map - on the stations are only the lines which stop there and the list of stops of each line.
The jungle park's main attraction is a really long suspension bridge, a small pagoda, a bronze dragon and some jungle, but not really worth the money. I also take a look at the Yalong bay beach, which is "the best beach around Sanya", but I can't see much special. There's a special rock formation in the see which is depicted on the 2 Yuan note, but you rarely get a 2 Yuan note.
I take the bus 15 back, as bus 15 goes to the Dadong beach. And in the evening, I google a bit more for the jungle trip I'd like to make: "Yanoda" is the keyword. You get a bus from the long-distance bus station in Sanya; that's easy to do. I have to wait an hour for that bus, apparently, I barely missed the previous one. And then, there's another hour ride to Yanoda.
However, Yanoda has more to offer: A ropeway ride over the jungle, many paths with explanations about plants, and several waterfalls, which you can climb up - guided, of course. I want to do that, too, but it's not that easy, you need a guide who has planned this. But I get around the difficulties, and make a few new friends, who take me back to Sanya in the backseat of their car - however, to a beach even further away. And since it's already late, and I know the restaurants in Dadong beach will close at 9, I take a taxi, which is considerably faster than the bus, but also a lot more expensive.