at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

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Tag: Haikou

Haikou Construction Tilt-Shift

Construction in China, Child’s Play

Visiting China, living like a Chinese, celebrating a wedding – it just had to involve some home purchasing aspect… :-p

The background, if you need it:

You may have heard about the challenge in finding a wife that the surplus of men in China faces.

You may have also heard of the phenomenon of “leftover women” who are considered too old (at around age 26), too independent, too highly educated, earning, and demanding, to find a husband.

But, there’s still more:

Finding a partner is still seen as more-than-essential in the clear life paths Chinese society seems to push everyone towards.
And an equally-as-clear part of that path, though one you may not have heard of if you haven’t delved deeper into social issues in China, is that it is the husband(-to-be) who is seen as having to provide most of his future family’s income (and hence, to have a high salary already), to go into the marriage having a car and a house/apartment.

Well, we didn’t and wouldn’t be able to get a place in China, but the in-laws did and the relatives with a good income are after the next apartment purchase.

Of course, we had to go and check it out – and I used the chance for some fun with photography. Which strangely turned out fitting for a theme of child’s play (which always looms in the background of discussions about marriage prospects and the gender imbalance in China)…

Haikou Market Vegetable Pile

‘adventuring’ into Haikou Markets

“Cities are all the same nowadays,” you will often hear.

Global trade has led to many brands (seemingly) being everywhere, and many an inner city has come to look basically the same as any other, it is true.

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The beginnings of globalization in the Columbian Exchange (as in, when Columbus “discovered” the Americas and species of “Old” and “New World” started to spread and mingle) made global food offerings similar even sooner.

Yet, differences also remain, and nowhere are they more obvious than at local markets…

Such “wet markets” are particularly interesting in their regional differences, which speak to the extent to which different places are still shaped by their different ecological conditions, resulting in different offerings.

Unsurprisingly – in spite of all the talk of globalization and uniformity – on Hainan, this includes a much stronger presence of fish, shellfish and seafood.

Here, even the markets in Hunan, where carp and eel would typically be the major, if not the only, fish on offer, are already distinctly different, even though one may think of them all as Chinese markets – and of course, in Europe, things look different yet again.

(I have a whole series on markets over on ChiliCult, my blog about hot spices and the world to be discovered through them.)

Haikou (Xinbu) Beach Running With the Sunrise

Culture(s) on the Beach… in Haikou, Hainan

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.

Haikou, Binhai Beach

Haikou, Binhai Beach

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?

Haikou, Binhai Beach Walk

Haikou, Binhai Beach Walk

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…)

Haikou (Xinbu) Beach, Early Morning

Haikou (Xinbu) Beach, Early Morning

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:

Tropical City Contrasts: Haikou

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.

Su Shi (Su Dongpo)Statue in Sugong Temple

Su Shi (Su Dongpo)Statue in Sugong Temple

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.

Haikou Beach Running

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.

Haikou Construction Tilt-Shift

Haikou Construction Tilt-Shift

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