A deadly cocktail of sun, sand, rainforests, tropical fruits, mojitos, motorbikes, minority villages and street food has distracted me from writing my fourth blog … No, I’m not talking about the Hawaii or even Bali – believe it or not, still China! Hainan Island to be precise.
The staff at Changqing Reserve work weekends, and the vast majority of them are living away from their families. This means that each month we work approximately three weeks ‘on’ and then get a week ‘off’. So after the Golden Week concluded we all took off – most to see their families, however me to see more of China. I LOVE travelling around China … its quite easily one of my favourite things in the world to do. Every trip is a new and exciting experience. In fact, it recently occurred to me that I threw out expectations on these mini-breaks long ago and now just eagerly await adventure. As a UK friend of mine said recently in his travel blog “No matter where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with, there’s this feeling that something specials going to happen. It’s hard to explain but visit and you’ll see for yourselves. There is nowhere quite like China.”
With winter rapidly approaching, this Aussie girl decided it was time to head to China’s southernmost province, Hainan, to swim in the ocean and lie under the sun. Unfortunately the fact that the Island was experiencing a typhoon at the time was lost in translation (I now understand why a work colleague said ‘you should not go. Big rain’ … ha!). But I had such a fabulous time, and the weather didn’t dampen the trip.
As with the majority of China, when travelling to Hainan you have two options –the ‘popular’ tourist destination (in this case Sanya) or the ‘road less travelled’ (everywhere else on the island!). You see, the vast majority of domestic tourists in China travel in large groups and stick to the main attractions. So, my experience has been that sometimes you only need to take a different path in the same nature reserve to go from quite literally 100s of Chinese tourists, to nobody for miles. Foreigners tend to do much more ‘independent travel’ than Chinese, however due to language difficulties in China, stick to a well-travelled, city focused hostel route. The ones who do chose the ‘road less travelled’ in China tend to either speak a bit of Mandarin, go with a guide/tour agency or are super relaxed individuals armed with a good phrasebook!
For the record, after a team discussion, my friend and I decided we wanted the best of both worlds – Sanya for the luxuries (Thai food, thermal spas and sun-down cocktails overlooking the beach), and various other locations on the island for minority villages, deserted beaches, tropical vegetation and just to generally get more of a ‘real’ and less polished view of the Island. Needless to say, once again China didn’t disappoint! We had the most amazing trip full of new experiences, sensory overloads, and laughter – in fact even some sunshine in the middle of typhoon season too!
Next trip – Xinjiang