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We decided to stick around town for the holidays, partly because I was getting over a cold and partly because traveling during the holidays can really suck in China, since you are sharing the rails, hotels and buses with about a billion other people. I decided that it was time to explore some of the local beaches.
Unlike Americans and Europeans, the Chinese have not taken to the notion of beaches as a great place to hang out. For one thing, they don't want to get tan. That's for peasants and fisherfolk. Yali prides herself in her fair complexion, and always wears long sleeves, a hat, and big shades when she goes in the sun. An umbrella completes the ensemble. You see lots of women and men using umbrellas when the sun is out. I also enjoy the shade provided by the bumbershoot and use mine whenever I'm walking in the baking heat.
Anyway, beach resorts do exist here, but not like you would think. We live in a place that has some nice beaches, and we have great winter weather, but this is no Miami. People from the North do not flock here in the winter.
We did go to two different places this week. The first is a spiffy little island a mere ten minute boat ride in the bay. President Hu Jintao paid a visit here in 2005 and viola!--Instant Resort.
There are some nice little beaches, good lodging, and restaurants, but your view from the beach is of the shipyards just across the narrow strait, so even though we had a great time with a bunch of our friends, I yearned for something a little more natural.
There is another bigger island that is a barrier island facing the South China Sea. It's a longer boat ride to a village, then you have to take a sanmo (three wheeled motorcycle cab) for 35 minutes across the island. It's a bone shaking ride through farms and fish farms--very third world. We were dropped off with the driver's phone number at a deserted resort. It was one of those if you build it they won't come kind of affairs. It was lunch time and we went over to the bamboo and sheet metal restaurant and had an awesome crab and squid lunch. They let us come into the kitchen and pick our crabs which were skittering around in a bucket. We then strolled over to a huge deserted beach with surf and some fishing boats. Yali bought a bunch of fresh fish from a fisher lady, and we boys romped in the surf. It was perfect water, and only a handful of people.
We walked over to the deserted hotel, and found someone who quoted us a price for a room, which wasn't too outrageous, so maybe we'll come over for a night sometime. We went back to the crab shack for a couple of cold ones and waited for the sanmo to return.
It was a wonderfully relaxing day completely removed from the city and we will be making this a favorite place to go on Saturdays for a long time.