May 12, 2014

Sanya is China's "Hawaii"

Hainan Island is China’s southern most province. It is their beach
getaway. China has a long coastline but there are very few beach destinations so Hainan is their most popular sunny destination. We used 30,000 frequent flyer miles to fly from Bangkok to Sanya on the southern shore of Hainan so two one-way tickets only cost $66 – we have to pay the taxes.  Sanya has a plethora of hotels in all categories with more in the progress.  We had not expected to see the area so developed.  We checked out a few high-end hotels and were very impressed with the new InterContinental in Haitang Bay with its unique Aqua Restaurant, the newest resort area being developed. We visited the MGM Grand in Yalong Bay, an area already highly developed.  All international brands of hotels were present most of which also had full-service beach front villas to meet the needs of the Chinese who often travel with three generations. There is a large upper middle class in China and it is growing rapidly.  

John and I stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort in Sanya Bay near the airport for 12 days using our points for six free nights so it was a very reasonable getaway.  The Holiday Inn had a lovely multi-level pool and access to a long sandy beach.  We seemed to be the only Americans.  The hotel was quite full but the pool
had very few people during the day.  It seems that the clients were equally divided between Russians and Eastern Europeans who went to the beach during the day and the Chinese who avoided the sun during the day because they don’t like to get a tan. We, however, relished the sun and having the pool to ourselves. John would go to the beach to buy mangos from the lady fruit vendors for our lunch.

I am often asked about the food in Asian countries.  At the Holiday Inn Resort and most hotels the menus have a bevy of international items.  Breakfast buffets in Asia are extensive including soups, salads, eggs, cereals, rice, pancakes, grilled tomatoes, beans, curries and fruit so there is always something for every palette. Asians traveling in the US often have more trouble finding food they like because they usually want rice with all their meals and that isn’t easy to find in most US restaurants. One day we took the hotel’s free shuttle to a shopping center where there were many high-end and duty-free shops.  The Chinese are great shoppers and no knock-offs for them, they want the “real” thing – Coach purses, Dior dresses, and so on.  

There were all the usual fun-in-the-sun things to do including
snorkeling, jet skiing, and parasailing. We were more interested in the local culture so we booked a tour to the Li and Miao Minority Village. The Li and Miao were minority groups who lived on Hainan Island. It was a theme park because, like most places in the world, people have adopted the modern way of living. It is a great way to preserve a vanishing culture. We were in time for the colorful folkloric show that highlighted the various activities of the Li and Miao including fire starting, weaving, bamboo stick dancing, and other aspects of their culture.  John and I enjoyed walking around the park dotted with traditional houses with people demonstrating crafts. It was a great way to learn about other cultures.