China’s Hainan Island Province is often referred to as the Hawaii of the east. It’s a retreat from the cacophony of the larger cities of multi millions, traffic juggernauts, mall filled shopper etc. And it’s Haikou, the capital and commercial business centre that is special.
When I was invited to Hainin, China, I had never heard of this area. I’ve been to Henan and Hunan so I thought I may as well go to Hainan. World Travel Exchange was having a world wide, by invitation conference on tourism for that area and besides, I love travelling to unknown and unvisited areas. So after approximately 18 hour flight to Beijing and then another 3 plus hours to Haikou, the capital and most populous city on this island off mainland China, I had arrived. The conference was informative, very professional and very important.
Hainan has a tropical climate with various classes of resorts that tourists don’t know about yet. It’s the Hawaii of China and yes, the Chinese know and go.
Twenty-two years ago, I was invited to a new golf course still under construction. Shenzhen Mission Hills Golf Course, with two 18 hole courses, hotel, houses, cinemas and not far from Hong Kong. I needed a visa. Contacts are always helpful. The owner’s daughter had one for me and we were ushered through with a wave.
China’s love affair with golf has grown expedentialiy, and still hasn’t stopped expanding. Haikou’s golf course, on a land mass the size of Macau, where the Haikou Mission Hills Golf Course has ten (yes, you read correctly), 18 hole courses, and includes a most beautiful hotel, surrounded by, of course, stunning houses for rent or purchase, cinema, convention and conference facilities… in short, a small village.
There are other golf courses in Haikou, but once you see Mission Hills, you’ll just want to stay, experience and enjoy all it has to offer. And you don’t have to play the game. It’s a retreat like no other!
For those of us who don’t know
more than kne hao, (hello), there’s a bit of a problem. English, French,
Spanish etc., speaking tourists may have a hard time but the locals are so kind
and gentle that they always have their
useful translating device handy.
Another issue that the travel magazines and papers don’t tell you about is that credit cards are only worth the plastic they’re written on. Each ATM machine is miles away from each other and hotels do have them (take your cash since in 13 seconds and it chews up your card). Also in large malls some shops accept the plastics. But don’t depend on that. Cash is the thing.
Yes, there are tea houses all over but that’s a bit of a misnomer since most have a list of food from the dumplings stuffed with meat and then others with sweet filling. Some of these ‘tea Houses’ have full menus.
A favourite is Cha-Ye-Hui.
What makes this different is that the antique furniture, china and glass ware,
is for sale.
The Art of Tea Meeting Place, also furnished with traditional Chinese furniture, a display of herbal spice and tea jars, pottery. The walls are panelled in wood, furniture made of Ropse wood or the rare Moo-li hard wood Ormosia Henji Prain.
My marvellous experience is when Helen, one of the concierge team, asked if I would like to be shown around the island. On her list was Jinbo Road Tea house..( It was difficult to translate). There, there are five large rooms, all filled to capacity, being Sunday, and we were able to get a table in the main room. There all the fresh out of the oven food is taken and replaced.. Then the fun began, deciding on what we wanted.
Talking about food is a national pastime. There seems to be a few eateries on each lane or street. The fame Hainan chicken is preferred by the locals. It’s spicy so modified cooking served in hotels or other gourmet restaurants are preferred by tourists. The local beer is great-blond and lager.
The 18 floor, at Haikou Mission Hills‘ hotel whether you play golf or not, but want truly royal service and the privilege of staying in exceptionally designed rooms, suites or large suites with kitchens, ( You’re not expected to cook. Leave that to a hired chef). And there are many restaurants within the hotel or nearby. It’s time for relaxation so use the public reading rooms, meet like-minded people and take advantage of the spa facilities
I stayed at the Marriott
Haikou, more of a business/ conference hotel. Not fancy, schmancy but the
rooms are spacious, sparkling clean and well laid out as are the bathrooms. The
staff doesn’t speak much English but are so very helpful and use their
useful translating device.
It’s about 30 minutes from the centre of the city, a bit isolated, but near beaches and has a pool and spa.
The breakfasts, usually included,
and variety. I opted for the Chinese section (when in Rome ….) and was
delighted by the new tastes of traditional
Breakfasts cater to the Japanese.
For the international set, there are bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon and
for less adventurous an array of homemade bread, muffins, eggs however you like
them, fruit and cereals.
All rooms face the sea and there’s nothing more perfect than letting the breeze waft through the windows in the morning.
For those wanting to be in the
centre of the city, there are the luxury hotel
brand names, Ritz Carlton, Renaissance, and The Langham, on busy,
THINGS TO DO.
1.The newish Century Bridge
is worth you while to see or drive over.
It is one of the most marvellous spans I’ve ever seen.
I’m amazed by the architecturally diverse and clever shapes of the new buildings. It’s a must-see, so get a tour/driver and have him/her take you around these amazing, unexpected buildings.
2. A big surprise is the Feng Ziaogang Film Commune. It’s a small (but still large) film studio area compared to Hollywood but walk through the few streets with posters from thirty-ish from Hollywood, also Southeast Asia and Europe and Chinese actors.
3. Although a lovely pedestrian street with great charm, it seems very touristy. Arcade Old Street is on the list of Chinese Historical and Cultural Streets. It features a long history, built by overseas Chinese or those who returned from southeast Asia. Take a stroll, sit and savour refreshing, right- off -the -tree coconut juice and have them cut up the inner, luscious coconut meat. There are also some nice shops along the way.
4. The Hainan Museum is a
masterpiece in itself. Great
architecture. Leave a few hours to see
the porcelain, clothing and marine
biological mineral resources, plus plus.
It needs time.The old saying “good
things come in small packages” is my long lasting impression of