The other side of Sanya

Updated: 2014-11-14 09:58

By Xu Junqian(Shanghai Star)

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The other side of Sanya

Island life: Sanya, one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, is clustered with five-star resorts.[Photo provided to shanghai star]

The problem with popular tourist destinations is that they are full of other tourists. Xu Junqian braces the crowds at "China’s Hawaii" and finds an oasis of calm amongst the madness.

The plane from Shanghai to Sanya landed, as it took off, screeching and screaming. The three hour flight itself was fairly uneventful, aside from the hyper-active children, who made up almost half the passengers on board, tearing through the cabin more frequently than the air attendants.

"Mom, my ears hurt," one child screamed as the plane descended. "Quiet. You will get used to it after more flights," the mother hollered back, drowning out the loud roar of the engine.

Unsurprisingly, the mother's request did not lead to quiet. If anything, it simply invited more hollering from other children and their impatient moms.

It’s a common scene on Chinese flights to a destination resort during summer and winter vacations, national holidays and even weekends. But for the flights to Sanya, Hainan province, the “Chinese Hawaii” where domestic travelers, young and old, often travel to for their first leisure trip, the flight can feel like you have trespassed onto a kindergarten tour, or found yourself at Disneyland.

I have visited Sanya once before, almost five years ago. It was not my first trip outside my hometown, but it somehow put pause to my desire to discover more of my home country, which, as our geography textbook taught us, boasts “vast and various landscapes and abundant resources”.

My reluctance to return to Sanya was not because I had already seen "the corner of the country", Tianya Haijiao, which loosely translates to "the edge of the sea and the rim of the sky". It is the most famous spot in Sanya and perhaps the country. It was once featured on the Chinese two-yuan note.

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