A week ago, I was escaping the winter with my mom and sister in Sanya. Instead of going to Southeast Asia, I went to the most Southern point in China. As the only tropical island in China, I found many interesting things about this island. The weather in March is perfect here, with temperatures ranging from 20-30 degrees a day. The sea brings a warm breeze all day, and it is not humid at all.
Who are the residents here? Apart from the islanders, I was amazed that the island is full of residents from Northeast China. Northeast China, bordering Russia, consists of 3 provinces and is one of the coldest areas in China. On the way from the airport to the hotel, our driver revealed some interesting historical facts about the connection. Briefly, the troop that freed Hainan during the Chinese Civil War were from the Northeast, and their presence paved the way for future incomers. People from Northeast China carry a very distinctively pleasant Mandarin accent which I greatly favor. They had a significant impact here, and their business is in all sections here on the island.
What people enjoy doing on the beach The soft white sandy beach stretches for miles in Dadonghai. However, If you imagine a beach with bikinis and a sunbathing crowd, you are totally wrong. Here, you almost see no one sunbathing or even wearing a swimming suit on this beautiful sandy beach; there are also no chairs or sunbeds here. People usually enjoy sitting in the shade, playing with their kids, or enjoying food and snacks together. The stereotype that Chinese people don't like tanning is true:) The beauty fashion in China is white; therefore, many women and men cover themselves. They wear a very thin layer of jacket to avoid the sun. There are very few people swimming too. Another stereotype goes that Chinese people don't know how to swim. It is also true as swimming as a skill was not very much valued in the past. Take myself for an example; I only learned how to swim when I was 29. Ironically, I enjoyed the water so much that I became a freediver and windsurfer.
Haven for the Chinese elderly If this island is in Thailand, it would be a perfect hub for digital nomads; probably due to the hassle of getting a Chinese visa and free access to the internet, there are barely any foreigners here. Instead, the island has become a haven for the elderly who want to enjoy a more comfortable winter. Many retired couples come down to this island and co-live in some flat called "Elderly home"(老年公寓 in Chinese), where you have the canteen and some shared recreational amenities in the compound.
Full of signs in Russian Strolling in the touristic part of Dadonghai District, you can see that almost every store has Chinese and Russian names. According to some shop owners, there were many Russian tourists pre-pandemic time. It was a popular spot for Russian tourists to escape the cold. However, nowadays, due to the pandemic restrictions and Visa difficulties, there is almost no sight of any foreigners on the street.
The foreigners in Sanya The first day I arrived, I saw one event on Couchsurfing organized by Scarlett. I immediately messaged her and met with her. She is a teacher from one international school here, and it turns out that we were in Istanbul at the same time during the earthquake, but we did not know each other by then. Her flight back to China was one day after mine. It is a weird coincidence that we met in this city out of all the places in China. Through her, I met some other foreigners also teaching there.
On the promenade in Dadonghai, where I walked every day, I noticed a bar with very distinctive music tastes, unlike the rest of the restaurants we passed by. One day, we walked by and decided to have a drink there. I noticed the menu was full of Georgian food, which is unusual because I barely see Georgian restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing. I wondered why there was a restaurant serving Georgian food in Sanya, so I told the waitress that I had been to Georgia 3 times in the past. Then a Georgian guy came out, speaking Chinese to me. His name is George; he came to study in Hainan and has stayed for six years since. He now owns a wine business, exporting Georgian wine to China.
It was my first time traveling with my mom and sister, and it was easier than I thought. We planned our trip quite spontaneously and it was a wonderful trip.