Recollection of trip (Added on 23/1/2010):
Hainan is an island as well as a province. It is in the southern most part of China. Thus, the weather is warm most of the time. Even during the winter, temperature will not drop below 20 degrees.
It is an ideal local tourist destination for those from Northern China wanting to escape the icy cold winter. The capital Haikou is well developed with excellent roads and bridges, high rises offices, apartments and shopping centres. Surprisingly, accommodation is still cheap in Haikou. A 3 star hotel with free Internet access will cost about RMB 160.
There are several shopping areas in Haikou, with the most recent one centred around the Carrefour hypermarket. I was more interested with the old street, called Lao Jie. This is the place that looks like a typical Chinatown area one would find in Singapore and Malaysia, in the 70s and 80s. One can see people engaged in all kind of trades in shops the reminiscence on those pre-war shop houses in Malaysia / Singapore. The high point is the walk in the wet market, where one could see all kind of ‘food’ being sold. Snakes, eels, various kind of fish and shellfish, frogs and other more exotic animals can be see there.
The other city that I visited is Qionghai, which is about 1.5 drive from Haikou. This is also a city that is growing very fast, with lots of new high-rise complexes and apartments being built. The riverfront view of this city is excellent, and there is still enormous scope for development here. Anyone thinking of investing here?
Visited my relative homes near the town of Wenchang, whch is quite close to Qionghai. There were very friendly and generous, in bringing me to the ancestral home, though I could not speak the dialect. Most of the structure has been destroyed by fire during the Japanese time, with the kitchen still standing. The altars were not there, only the photos of my grandparent and elder uncles were found there. Nevertheless, I prayed with joss stick. I didn’t really say anything in my prayer, as I’m a non believer. But I did not want to be seen rude and thus I just mumbled a few words, to the effect that wishing my ancestors well and they will continue to protect me. The highlight must have been the firing of a round crackers lasting a few minutes. My relative have bought these fire crackers, sweets, fruits as well as hell bank notes for burning at their own expense, and refused payments from me. Well, I guess they really want to return and invest there. Well, who knows …
As the area is close to the see, my relatives are involved in aqua-culture. One is involved in prawn farming, while the other is involved in edible snail farming. They seems to be doing all right nowadays. Later, they brought me to a hot spring, and I had my first dip in a pool in China there. There were several businessmen from the mainland with my relative. They told me they are in prawn rearing business from Tianjin, and are looking at ‘mother prawns’ to produce quality stock. I wonder whether prawns could thrive in temperate region, and they told me they are being reared in controlled environment.
Overall, it is a meaningful short visit for me.