Tuesday morning I woke up around 6 and was unable to fall back asleep. Since everyone was still asleep, I took my laptop up to the open-air loft to surf whatever parts of the web the Chinese government allowed (no Facebook or YouTube). It was warm and breezy and I had to go back inside when the bright sunlight made it difficult to see my screen.
First thing out of his mouth upon waking up was, “we go swimmin’ again?”
A flowering tree near our villa.
Once everyone was up and dressed, we headed to the lobby and the beach to do a little exploring.
From the resort lobby looking out across the infinity pool to the ocean.
Bill was trying to be funny asking me to take a photo of Tommy standing between the fountain and the pool…
It resulted in a shot that looks like Tommy has a stick coming out of his head!
We spent a little time exploring the lobby and the pool areas, they were really nice. Even though it was a Tuesday, I found it a little odd that there was no one around.
Tommy having a little pouting moment.
Most of the plumeria around the resort looked like it had just been pruned, so there were very few blossoms. I did catch a few though.
We were the only ones on the beach so Tommy enjoyed running around like a mad man. The surf was pretty rough, and not something we were comfortable playing in.
And his shirt was off within seconds…
I just chilled while he played. The noise of the surf was a little scary to him, so he stayed clear of the water.
Looking back at the resort from the beach.
A little while later, Uncle joined us and we enjoyed the free breakfast provided by the resort. There was a mix of both Chinese and Western foods, some good… some not so good.
Tommy enjoyed the drinkable yogurt they had along with some rice porridge and the fresh watermelon juice. I wasn’t very hungry, so I snacked on a few barbecued pork buns and some orange juice.
One thing that I did have to try was this big jar of local honey. The sign said the bees came from a local lychee orchard. The honey had a flavor that was quite unique, sweet and light and with a very obvious fruity note to it. It was delicious!
After breakfast we headed back to our villa to pack up.
Before leaving, I had to snap a couple of photos of this odd-looking wood thing that was in each of the bedrooms and in the living area.
Upon closer inspection, it’s the friggin’ TV guide! The characters are engraved into the wood. That’s something we’ve definitely never seen before.
The plan for our day was to visit a rainforest attraction before driving to Sanya and checking-in to the resort that would be our home for the rest of our visit in Hainan. The 90 minute drive greeted me with beautiful views of local agriculture. I saw fields of mango trees, pineapple plants, coconut trees, papaya trees, and banana trees. Coconut trees are very abundant here, so pretty much every roadside stand had them for sale in varying states of age.
On the way to the rainforest we stopped at one roadside stand to pick up some bananas and coconuts. The bananas were picked from the trees that grow along the side of the roads and in people’s yards. They’re small and really delicious with a texture that’s different that the bananas I’m used to.
Banana fun fact: Bananas don’t actually turn yellow and ripen on the tree. They don’t do that until after they’ve been cut.
Some green bananas waiting to ripen and some ripe bananas waiting to be sold.
The coconuts we had were younger than the ones we had two nights ago, so once we had finished drinking the coconut water, the woman chopped them into quarters with her machete so we could scoop out the soft flesh. It was a little sweet and a super soft texture, almost like a creamy Jell-O.
We hit the road once more to visit Yanoda 5A Cultural Tourism Zone. Say that five times fast.
Yanoda (pronounced YA-no-DA) is a section of a government-protected tropical rainforest in southern Hainan, near Sanya. This specific part is mostly landscaped and paved roads and trails have been added to make it easier for tourists to navigate and see some of the rare trees and flowers.
Laikwan told me the word yanoda is the Hainanese equivalent of aloha. All of the employees would say, “yanoda!” and wave a peace sign with a lot of forced enthusiasm to guests as a greeting. Tommy caught on how to do it really quickly and everyone thought he was adorable.
Upon arriving, we were all given a lanyard with a small, flat box attached along with an ear piece. When we visited specific sections of the park, the box automatically narrated the significance of what we were looking at and a little light came on indicating where we were on the map. It was pretty neat. Ours were in English, Laikwan’s was in Mandarin, I think. I wonder how many languages they had?
Given that it was hot and humid and Tommy was really tired, we opted for the tour-via-golf-cart instead of doing the tour on foot. We didn’t get to see everything from the golf cart, but we were okay with that. We still got to see quite a bit that was really lovely.
jackfruit tree… a fruit native to southeast Asia. Often confused with it’s more stinky associate, durian.
The red ribbons all had the words “mind your head” printed on them in three languages.
This is the “Couple Banyan” tree. I guess two banyan trees wound around each other and it’s considered good luck for a couple to walk through the opening.
A photographer was doing a photo shoot of a bride and groom there. Given how hot and humid it was, the models must have been miserable in their outfits.
A poorly translated explanation of the Couple Banyan:
A pretty rad spider web
Tommy really enjoyed the opportunity to walk around unrestrained.
Lots of pretty flowers…
At one spot there was a handler with a handful of beautiful macaws and cockatoos and guests were encouraged to take a photo with the birds.
Tommy wasn’t very thrilled.
They downright freaked him out.
After we were done with our tour of Yanoda, we visited the extensive gift shop. It was very Disney-esque in it’s location and size.
Giving our tour guide a thank you kiss… and then working really hard to open his ice cream.
This little guy was hanging out near our car!
Then we hit the road to try and find our resort. The place where Ga-Ling had reserved for us, Laikwan only knew its name in Chinese, so it took a little while to find it. It ended up being the Marriott Resort and Spa.
Tommy had passed out in the car and only woke up for a minute as I carried him into the lobby. One he was asleep again I laid him on one of the couches while Laikwan did the talking to get us checked in.
I love those eyelashes!
Bill’s ability to speak Cantonese was pretty useless here in Hainan, where most of the resort employees only speak Mandarin and the ones who are actually from Hainan can speak Hainanese too. Many have learned some English, but definitely not all.
We got to our room and the first thing we did was get dressed so we could go swimming. Tommy had been asking if he could go swimming ALL DAY and we had promised him that once we got to the hotel that he could. The sun was setting and we only got to swim for a short time before we had to leave for dinner, but he was still a happy boy.
Ready for his swim!
Around seven, we met up with Uncle and a guy who works for Ga-Ling (he got us situated at the resort) to have dinner at a place that was definitely not a place for tourists. It was close to the hotel, right off a main street, but a ways down a dirt road. There was an open-air restaurant that was literally steps from the water.
We shared an amazing meal of local fare starting with whole steamed fish with ginger and scallions:
braised wild pig:
sweet potato greens with a poached egg on top:
deep fried lamb short ribs:
vermicelli noodles with dried shrimp:
There was also a bowl of greens and individual bowls of a clam soup. It was all so delicious. The stars of the meal for me were the fresh steamed fish and the fried lamb. I’m still having dreams about that lamb.
A little Angry Birds with Uncle.
After dinner we stopped at what looked like an outdoor shopping mall near the resort. A giant kids play area had been set up with bouncy houses, small rides, a giant sand box, a train, carousel, mini-fishing pond and much, much more that I simply can’t remember. Tommy was totally overwhelmed on what to play on. He’d spend only a couple of minutes on one thing before moving on to another.
GIANT sand box!
While he played to his heart’s desire with Laikwan keeping watch, Bill and I had a blast with a couple of Segways.
I can’t tell you how hard it is to take a photo in really low light while standing on a Segway!
Ga-Ling’s company buys fun gadgets and toys for tourists to rent from places like resorts, hotels and malls in big touristy towns. This is why he has good relationships with the local resorts. At this particular touristy mall, they have half a dozen Segways for rent and we were given carte-blanche to just play. They were SO MUCH FUN. Uncle had played with them earlier in the day when we were swimming, so he was already a pro on how to use them. It took both Bill and me a couple of minutes to get comfortable… but really only a minute or two, they were really simple to use.
We zipped around the area for the better part of two hours while Tommy played. At one point Uncle and Bill took turns using a Segway that doesn’t have handlebars, you just lean with your knees to move and turn. I’ll admit, I was too chicken to give that one a try.
We fell asleep soundly after such a fun day!
To end, check out the measures I had to take to get my laptop charged. The plug was too heavy to stay put with the power adaptor.