China’s tropical island paradise, Hainan, may easily be one of the most interesting places for getting to know the craziness that is China.
Especially if you look at it with an awareness of Chinese history, it is quite paradoxical – and all the more interesting for it.
Hainan, after all, used to be one of the places where people who had fallen out of the imperial court’s favor were sent into exile; Sanya’s coast was considered the end of the world.
Su Shi (Su Dongpo), one of China’s great poets and polymaths, for example, ended up here.
He is memorialized in (the area of/beside, to be exact) the Wugong Ci, the Five Officials’ Temple/Memorial in Haikou.
There, among other things, he is shown as this exile who still did great things even in this backwater hellhole of a place, introducing the poor backwards islanders to agriculture and learning of a higher kind.
Islanders who otherwise collected tropical fruits, for example. Of which Hainan still offers a lot of kinds and for which, certainly with my wife and me, it is now one of the favorite holiday destinations … and by the example of which, in my opinion, one can learn quite a bit about this our world, i.e. do some at-home-making:
Where there are fruits, there are markets.
Even as malls and entire cities seem to be getting ever more the same no matter where you are, at least with all the same global brands advertising their wares, local markets still have some ‘color’ reflecting their location.
In China, and in a place such as Haikou, particularly so…
But then, even as Haikou is much less popular a beach vacation destination than Sanya on the opposite, Southern coast of Hainan, there are also beaches.
This being China, you may visit them very differently from how other people do if you go with Chinese and like a local… and with a “real” visit to the beach (in more Western terms) being different yet again. See more on that here.
Finally, of course, with the rising popularity, the usual Chinese housing boom has come.
In my travels, this was a chance both to see how locals proudly present their latest property purchase to relatives – and a chance to just have some fun with photography. See more here.