Okay, it’s back to trying to complete the China trip. One part down, another gazillionmillion to go. This was our first actual day in Sanya and initially the plan was for Emily, Erica, and myself to laze around the pool and accomplish absolutely nothing besides burning our skin to a nice tender crisp. But as if that was ever going to happen with a whole bunch of oldie family members as part of our traveling menagerie. That wanted to go see the sights and sounds of Sanya. We soon discovered that these sights and sounds mostly revolved around rice paddies and bad drivers honking their horns because apart from that those things, there’s pretty much dick all to do in Sanya besides lazing by the beach or resort.
So a few hours after an early breakfast, of which I neglected to take any photos, the flock of us were shuffled onto the hotel minivan which we hired for the day, and off to explore Sanya we went.
The first thing on the list was lunch. Now one thing that I have to admit I find just a tad annoying is that my FIL absolutely loves his asian seafood. No matter where we go he’s always hunting out asian seafood. Generally, I don’t have a problem with this. However when I’m visiting a new place I would much rather prefer to sample the true local fair that the commoners eat. I’d rather dine from hawker stalls or little cafes or street vendors then restaurants all the time.
Most asian restaurants with a huge array of fish tanks lining their shop fronts seem generally share similar menus and similar style of food preparations the world over. I mean, there’s only so many ways a run of the mill asian restaurant can cook a fish and I think we’ve just about discovered all of them over the years. So seafood it would be… again.
On venturing into the restaurant (which our driver recommended), I was quite astounded by the amazing quality of the fish!!! The fish were so amazingly…. almost dead! I’ve never seen such poorly maintained “fresh” seafood in my life! On top of that, the selection of edible marine life on offer was also staggering! Amongst many other strange ones, we saw tanks that both contained Puffer Fish and Titan Trigger fish!! What the hell??? Is a Titan Trigger Fish even edible?! Are these people ever qualified to kill and serve Puffer Fish???
Basically it seemed like they threw whatever fish that happened to be caught in the trawlers net in the tank, regardless of whether it’s actually good eating or not. And they probably hope some poor tourist sap would come along and fall for it. The state of the fish was quite disgusting and thankfully we ended up staying clear of them. This is all about strange for an island resort town where you think they’d know how to at least maintain their live fish for serving.
We opted for prawns and clams instead, both of which actually looked fresh enough that we wouldn’t be instantly slammed with a severe case of chronic diarrhea the moment it entered our mouths. Along with those came some other random dishes. The meal was actually really good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Like I said before, it all basically tasted similar to what you’d order off a chinese menu in a decent restaurant in any other part of the world, but nonetheless still enjoyable.
With lunch under our belt it was time to move on to the next thing on the list…. which was a “historical” chinese village.
This village is supposedly one of Sanya’s more interesting (and probably only) sightseeing destinations. The oldies are always interested in these sorts of cultural experiences of historical significance, and so planned this without telling the 3 of us “kids”. I mean, this may very well be interesting, but I would much rather be relaxing in the pool right now. The place was packed with tour buses when we arrived and so it looks as if many others had the same idea.
It all just seemed so commercial and theatrical that it was more a theme park than heritage site. The only thing that was missing was some poor sod dressed up in a grain of rice costume with arms and legs to greet people at the door. Actually, I bet they do have one but he probably called in sick on that day. He must’ve tried ordering the puffer fish…
The idea of this place is to introduce visitors to how life was back in the day for some of Hainan Island’s indigenous tribes. For a little extra, we got suckered procuring the services of a guide to lead us around the village and explain the how’s and why’s and oo’s and ahh’s of the life as we would see it. It’s all quite educational and would probably make for an interesting learning experience…. if you could understand any of it… which I naturally couldn’t.
The guide only spoke in china googlygoo…. which everyone but me understood, and so I didn’t really learn a thing apart from some translated snippets which random family members occasionally threw my way. One of the first places the guide took us to was this really shitty hut. Now I’m not being rudely critical of the huts construction but mean that literally. The huts are all made of a mixture of horse shit and other things. Anyway, we got taken into this hut and suddenly these women in pink that we didn’t see trailing behind us all flocked in around us.
They started to begin some ceremony of which I didn’t understand. Apparently it was only for the men. The women were all stood aside whilst the men were all given these red vests to wear. The last time I saw this kinda vest in action was when it was on that cute little monkey in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Anyway, they started this whole ritual and no one bothered to translate a thing.
Of course I understand that no one wanted to interrupt, but it would have been nice to know what the heck was going on. I found out way after it was over that this was in fact a traditional marriage ceremony, and that I was actually in the process of getting married! Man, if I had known, I would have picked out a prettier bride! 😛 I can say that because my new wife probably doesn’t know what the internet is and will never read this
After the ceremony was over, the men were led into an adjoining room away from our women and our new brides came in with us. Everyone was chatting away in Mandarin and I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I thought it was just another part of the ceremony. It turns out that we had to pay them for the privilege of going through this whole song and dance even though we were all led to believe that it was free. My FIL asked what would happen if we refused to pay and was apparently told that we would have to sleep with our brides. Obviously it was a joke but the situation was kinda sucky… with us feeling like we had been conned.
If I had my way, I’d call her bluff and take up the option of having sex with them. Raw hard anal sex with the largest blunt instrument I could find in the room and shout out in chinese whilst doing it “Hells yeah I love being married!!!”.
The old ladies on the loom I have to admit were pretty cool. All over the camp they had these old school women whom were covered in tattoos whom were using the old fashioned loom to knit both cloth and items of clothing for sale. It was pretty amazing to watch them doing these somewhat complicated tapestries all by hand. Wonderful… they would smile and we would smile back. Looking at these women and knowing they were actually people whom were both raised and steeped in these lost cultures just made me respect and admire them.
It’s really quite saddening to look upon them and know that they are probably the last of their kind, but unfortunately as much as we try to preserve the way of life for these indigenous tribes the world over, everything changes.
Another thing we tried was the spear fishing which is a damn sight harder than it looks. They used blunt nails strapped to sticks and targeted catfish in that little pond that you see below. Watching them smack a catfish right in the head with each throw made me feel like an epic fail as my sticks went no where near any of my targets with each throw. Boo…. Damn tribal people hax0ring the matrix….
Now for the good bit…. getting an el cheapo massage!!! I can’t remember how much it was here but it was crazily cheap. As cheap as we thought it was then, it would soon pale in cheapness to how much we paid on the mainland for a massage! This was another venue that the driver recommended to us. We asked for a cheap massage for the entire family and this was where the driver recommended. From the lobby, the presentation was pretty professional looking and as such we all felt quite comfortable getting touched up here.
But the moment we set foot in our respective rooms however…. it was safe to say that that opinion soon changed. The rooms were absolutely dodgy. Dodgy rooms with dodgy beds with dodgy lighting and dodgy posters of naked women on the wall. Now I’ve never ever been to an R&T joint, but I imagine they would look pretty similar to this! We both stripped down naked and laid under our blankets in preparation for our massage.
The women were surprisingly professional which leads me to believe that these were probably staff from the “legit” payroll. I say legit because laying naked in that dodgy room there, getting my bare flesh kneaded by some willing woman, I half expected her hands to slowly start migrating further and further north when they were massaging my inner thighs.
After the massage it was straight onto dinner. This time it was a restaurant that supposedly had good hainanese food. The only request for food that I had, echoed by Emily, was authentic Hainanese chicken rice. The driver apparently said that there isn’t really any places that serves up quality chicken rice that he knows off in Sanya. But this place served it anyway. Unfortunately for us, they were all out of chicken rice! Dammit! *kicks a puppy*
So we had to just settle for the chicken instead amongst the other dishes. The chicken was actually really good! One of the best I’ve had as a matter of fact! The meat and skin is so incredibly tasty because unlike the Singaporean style, they marinate the chicken until it’s packed with flavour as opposed to pouring sauce over it. The goose was very very good as well, possibly better than the chicken! Loved them both. Everything else was so so….
So thats our first day in Sanya in a nutshell. With us having absolutely no time to chill by the pool today, we pleaded with the FIL to organise nothing for us the next day, of at least organise something that excludes us! We just wanted to relax! The day was enjoyable, enlightening, but by no means relaxing. We hoped that that will be something that will come on the wings of tomorrow