Going to the beach is not exactly a lesson in cultural identity and intercultural issues – except that, as the summer of 2016 came around, with the burkini ban in France, beachwear did show its political, cross-cultural side.
While this debate was raging, we went to the beach in Haikou, Hainan.
This being China, things were a bit different from what one might expect, here, too.
One, we first went to Binhai Beach – but only for night walks in the sand. After all, who’d want to get burnt by the hot days’ sun?
People do also come here during the day to paddle in the water a bit, but it’s nothing like the international tourist behavior one finds on beaches with lots of, well, international tourists (which one could already find in Sanya, on the Southern coast of Hainan).
Then, we also got invited (by relatives) to go stay by the beach, in the Hilton Haikou Meilan.
Supposedly five-star, apparently expensive, it is a palace by the sea in an area that seems to be getting newly built up – and remaining old and pre-modern, and falling to pieces, all at the same time.
(I say “supposedly five-star” because the rooms were not quite as clean and well-managed as a 5-star hotel’s rooms should be. The breakfast buffet was good though – in our opinion. The others had to complain that it didn’t have everything they thought there should have been…)
Hardly anyone is visiting the beach there, either, and even the hotel pools were hardly being used.
It was still, if not all the more, interesting to be the one person who went out on the beach in the morning to go for a run there: