The Inner Mongolian China Brog

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spring Festivus for the Rest of Us, Part IV

I can say without a shred of guilt that Emma and I deserved every minute spent on the tropical island of Hainan, just off the coast of mainland China. It's not the easiest place in the world to get to, but well worth it for sure. We chose the easiest possible route, which even so involved an overnight train ride from Guilin to Guangzhou. Anyone unfortunate enough to have to experience Guangzhou's main train station will surely be quick to tell you that it tops their list of places never to return to ever again, even if plague, cholera and leprosy demanded that their train ride originate or end there. The Lonely Planet guidebook describes it as a seething mass of humanity, and I would now state for the record that that is the most accurate statement I have yet to read from it. From the moment we disembarked our train, we found ourselves in a solid mass of people, making it difficult to see for 2 feet ahead of us, let alone find a way out. We had the entire afternoon to kill before our flight would leave for Hainan that evening, and we had planned to take the Metro down to Shamian Island, a teeny escape of charm amidst the sewer that is Guangzhou. However, after I don't even know how long of shoving through crowds only to find ourselves having made no progress toward anything resembling public transportation, we were driven to desperation by the heat, noise and crowds. We had all our earthly possessions on our backs, which were beginning to seriously weigh us down, and I can only imagine the endless string of expletives and obscenities streaming from my mouth as hysteria approached my feeble little mind. After what seemed like an eternity, we managed to find a cab that wasn't trying to cheat us, and we had a peaceful Thai lunch on Shamian Dao amongst happy little biracial new families of American parents and freshly-adopted Chinese babies.

A bunch of hours and a short plane ride later, we found ourselves at Hainan's Holiday Inn Sanya Resort, positive that we had located paradise. We had budgeted the rest of our trip such that it allowed us a 3-day stay at this 5-star resort, and yeah, basically anything would have looked luxurious compared to some of the places we'd been staying, but seriously, this place was tops. Our room was fresh and immaculate with crisp white duvets and the token seashell decor surrounding us. We were giddy with excitement upon arrival, and this at about 11 pm, meaning it was dark, and we couldn't even see what the view was like.

Needless to say, I awoke the next morning with Christmas in my heart, and I threw back the curtains, ready to take in the breathtaking view of sandy beach and ocean for miles...and I saw clouds. Yes, the gloomy weather managed to follow us all the way to our tropical escape and lasted the entire time we were there. Not to be discouraged, however, I took in as best I could the view of the beach, the islands beyond, the hammocks strung lazily between palm trees, and Chinese people being really Chinese at the water's edge. Clay once wondered out loud if Chinese people could ever truly relax in a quiet, serene atmosphere, since normal Chinese life is filled with basically constant noise and commotion; I'm now pretty sure that the answer is no. Granted, I don't know if my stay in Sanya is an appropriate measure, being that the national holiday had still not officially begun, meaning the resort was relatively deserted, and the weather was pits, but that doesn't change the fact that as I gazed down from our massive terrace, I saw dozens of deck chairs looking vacant and lonely, while dozens of Chinese frolicked gaily (and fully clothed, many of them) at the water's edge. Being that the weather was not exactly sunbathing-quality, though still lovely and warm, Emma and I sat on our terrace that morning, reading and enjoying the view, losing ourselves in the atmosphere...when somewhere above our heads we heard an all-too-familiar-and-unpleasant noise, and we winced as the resulting loogie landed at our feet. Yep, still in China.

We were determined to enjoy ourselves, though, and we really did. The resort was so fresh and breezy that we never felt the need to leave and seek entertainment elsewhere. And the food was great. Western food done right, for sure, with an unbeatable apple pie. I went through several books, several more cappuccinos, and we even found time for a couple on-site spa treatments (God bless Chinese prices). We each enjoyed an hour-long Thai massage, and sat patiently through 2 hours' worth of manicure and pedicure treatments, which was just boring, though we got our money's worth for sure! Minus the sorry selection of drugstore-brand nail polishes in colors such as acid green and prostitute pink, that is.

I was truly sorry when the time for checking out came, as I found myself wishing once again to see the place I'd been enjoying by direct sunlight, though the fact that we were Shanghai-bound took the sting out of it. Plus, bargain though it was by American standards, we certainly couldn't afford to continue enjoying ourselves quite that much for much longer. It was time haul our pampered butts to Shanghai, into the hospitality of near-strangers.

2 Comments:

At 9:59 AM, Blogger mondy20 said...

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At 9:59 AM, Blogger mondy20 said...

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