My Winter Travels, Part 2: Hainan

Hainan Picasa Photo Album
After visiting Harbin and spending a few days in Qinhuangdao, I went to Beijing to meet up with some friends who I traveled with for the next two weeks. During this time I traveled with Jon & Drew (who are ELT Edge teachers at Northeast University at Qinhuangdao) and Liu Kai & Da Yu (who are students at Northeast University). We didn't have an exact plan for where all we would be going and how we would get there, but we knew we wanted to visit the island of Hainan first. Hainan is a tropical island just south of mainland China and east of Vietnam. It's China's only island province, unless you count Taiwan (as the Chinese always do...but that's a story for another day).

To get to Hainan, we first took a 26-hour sleeper train from Beijing to Guangzhou (in Guangdong Province, close to Hong Kong) on January 15th. On the train, we met Ingrid, a Lithuanian student who was traveling to Hong Kong via Guangzhou on her own. We stayed a day in Guangzhou, and she hung out with us during our day there, which was nice so that Da Yu had another female to split a hotel room with. We didn't see anything particularly cool in Guangzhou, but it's one of the nicest and most well-developed Chinese cities (due to its proximity to Hong Kong), so it was a pleasant place to spend a day. After our day in Guangzhou, we took another night sleeper train to Haikou, the capitol of Hainan and the island's largest city. It was interesting how the train got to the island...it boarded a big boat. To fit on the boat, the train split up into several sections (so that there was something like 4 sections of 6 train cars that fit side-by-side on the boat, rather than one long 24-car train), and then reassembled once the boat reached the island. On the train, we met another single female traveler, who joined us for our first couple days on Hainan. Her name was Myna (which I'm probably spelling wrong...) and she was a either foreign teacher or foreign student (I forget which) from France. From Haikou we took a bus to Sanya on the very southern tip of the island, where many of the best beaches on Hainan are found. We spent a week in Sanya, just relaxing and enjoying the beach. It was nice to get some great weather after being in the north where it was so cold. However, while the weather was nice and sunny every morning, we got a very light rain almost every day in the afternoon! I think that happened all but one day. Overall, Hainan has a similar feel to Hawaii or any of the other tropical islands out there. Here are some pictures:







Before we left Hainan, we stopped for a day in the middle of the island so that we could climb Wuzhi Shan, the biggest mountain on the island (it's a little over 6,000 feet). It was great fun to climb the mountain, but definitely a bit of challenge. I haven't done a lot of hiking, but the trail was by far the steepest trail I've ever climbed. The Chinese don't seem to understand the concept of switchbacks, because there weren't any. In several places there were rickety wooden ladders to help you climb up. A couple of other places had a rope or chain installed to help you up because the trail was so steep. Unfortunately, it was pretty foggy that day, so we couldn't see very far from the top. We got a late start climbing the mountain since we had started the day with a 3-hour bus ride from Sanya, and when we were climbing down, the sun set and it got very dark. This made the climb down miserable, because the trail so steep and muddy (it had recently rained). We all kept slipping and falling since we couldn't see the trail. None of us thought to bring a flashlight, so we all tried to use the backlight of our cell phone to light the trail. It helped a little bit, but not much. We eventually made it down, but it took us almost as long coming down as it took us to hike up! Some Pictures:


This was a great waterfall we passed on the trail up.


Liu Kai on one of the ladders on the trail.


Jon, showing us his award-winning smile.


This is part of the trail. If you look carefully, you can see a rope that was provided to help climbers up.


The guys model their backs at the top of the mountain. From left to right, that's me, Drew, Liu Kai and Jon.


The view from the top. I imagine it's fantastic when it's not so foggy.

After our week on Hainan, we visited Guilin next.
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Husband and father, musician, software engineer at SEOmoz, open source developer specializing in Ruby and Rails, world traveler and Christian.