exploring Sanya

If you are considering an overseas trip in the next year or if you travel regularly, you should consider purchasing a “quad-band” phone for your next cellular purchase.  Getting an international quad band compatible phone will allow you to use your phone most anywhere in the world.  I purchased a Samsung “Rugby” model on the ATT network and after “unlocking” it, I am able to purchase and use the sim card of any country I’m visiting.  Most phones on American service providers have their phones “locked” to that service that will block the usage of other sim cards.  To unblock them requires a certain code that can be obtained fairly easy; once the phone is unblocked, you can use any local sim card.  If your service provider will give you the code, you can unblock it yourself, if they won’t you can buy the code online for as little as $10.  I did a google search for my phone and had it unblocked within a 1/2 hour.

Anya was relying on a generic Motorola phone that she purchased in Russia or China.  These “cheapie” phones work great and are already unlocked allowing you to move from country to country changing only your sim card.  They are a good second bet if you already have a “US only” type cellular phone.

As Anya’s sim card was local to the Yangshuo area, we decided to visit the local sim card dealer and pick up a local card.  This turned out to be a little harder than first anticipated due to a bit bureaucracy; we called in Erica (over the phone) to the rescue to chat with the clerks at China Mobile.

While Anya was inside chatting with the clerks, I took a survey of the neighborhood outside and found this interesting two-wheeled specimen: a folding bike that is hinged in the middle allowing it to be folded into the trunk of a car or carried on a bus or train.  Considering the large number of bikes used in China, it certainly seemed like a handy invention!

After a bit of shopping and breakfast, we made our way to the beach: if not for anything but to get out feet wet.  Sanya is at the very southern end of Hainan Island and Hainan is at the very bottom of China; actually, its south of the southern coast of China.  Where this photo was taken was as far south as you can go in China.  And for good weather – it was warm and balmy, humid like Hawaii but not too hot and with a nice cool breeze.  It was really nice to be out of sub-Zero Mongolia and Siberia and be able to walk with shoes off in the cool surf.

The atmosphere in Sayna was very laid back and very “touristy.”  There where few bargain prices by the beaches and along the rows of hotels along the canals.  Tourist prices (including a $4-6 cup of coffee at a beach facing restaurant) were common and the affluence of the Chinese neavou riche was well displayed.  We saw a lot of sports cars, SUVs, Rolex watches and a lot of Gucci handbags – many were likely knock-offs, but this certainly was not the land of the black-pajama peasant.  The feel of the place had a taste of Bali or Hawaii with a mix of Thailand thrown in.  As in the rest of China, the people were very friendly and were naturally curious of us; we seemed to have conversations whenever we encountered English-speaking locals or Chinese visitors.

Heading into the city to shop for some “summer clothes,” we came upon such quantities and varieties of produce that cannot be explained in this small amount of space.  There were fruits and delicacies that I had never heard of and many of the vendors were happy to let us try some of them.  In the lower left portion of this photo is a crying milk plant – so called because its juice is white like milk.  Sitting next to them, the purple fruit are passion fruit that I had first tried in Longshan.  Each is served with a tiny plastic spoon for shovelling out the contents of the sweet and delectable fruit

On the bottom left of this photo is a large watermelon sized fruit.  For the life of me, I can’t remember its name – if anyone recognizes it, please leave a message.  I digress: the reason this fruit stood out in my mind is that it tastes like BUBBLEGUM!  No kidding a slice of this fruit is like biting into a piece of Bubblelicious bubblegum.  There were more and more fruits that we tried, another that stands out is the star fruit.  It is actually shaped like a star and has a very sweet taste.  I’ll post some photos of it later.

We snacked on fruit including a pineapple that was cut and put into a plastic bag for us; the flavor was like nothing I had ever tasted; it was sweet yet tart but had such a wonderful taste – nothing like what you find in stores in the US.  We also snacked on different types of seeds: they seemed to have 20 different flavors of sunflower seeds, we had some peanuts and other nuts, and even checked out the noodle shop.  As in Guilin, ethnic Muslims were the Chinese vendors that made the noodles and ran most of the noodle shops.  It is quite interesting to watch them make the noodles.  They start with one big piece of dough, roll it, fold it to two, then four, eight, sixteen, and so on until they have a whole roll of noodles.  Later, I video taped the process and will post it later.

I can honestly say that I’ve never had an experience as unique as having lunch with Anya in a Chinese restaurant.  First of all, we don’t speak any Chinese and the staff usually speaks no English.  So, you pretty much have to point at what you want to eat.  Anya has found a clever way of figuring out what she wants – much to the amusement of the restaurant patrons and staff.  She wanders around the restaurant surveying the tables of food – of course this stops all conversation at each table and the Chinese stare in half disbelief as she surveys their food – and she points to each dish and asks them (using hand signals, usually a thumbs up or thumbs down) if they like it.  Some of the Chinese stare with their mouths open, some giggle and laugh, and some actively try to engage her in conversation.  It becomes a bit of a side show and I was never amazed at her courage to mix with the locals and chat with them as if they were old friends.

After some pointing and sign language and mixing with the locals, our dishes arrived; fresh fish in garlic and eggplant and vegetables.  The dishes, as in other parts of China were phenomenal.  My mouth is watering at just the memory of the food.  I would gladly go back to China tomorrow just to have lunch!  We ate so well while on Hainan Island and it was a very special time.  We had beautiful weather, good food, beautiful beaches and of course, gorgeous sunsets.


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Muslims in China

China has so many different minority populations that it is tough to keep track of them; the Chinese government recognizes 55 different groups of them.  In  my few weeks in China I did see some different minority groups in their home areas but I also saw some mixed in with the population at whole.  In many of the larger cities, I noticed that quite a few of the food merchants were Muslim and appeared to be ethnically or a mix of Caucasian peoples.  In the photo above from Guilin, Erica wanted to get some “meat pokers,” (meat on a stick), it is “supposed” to be pork, but who knows - could be pigeon or rat?  I tried a few – they are quite spicy and taste like pork skewers from a bar-b-que.

You’ll notice the hat on the vendor, he’s a Muslim from the province of China of Xinjiang – the province that makes up a large part of China’s western area.  The people of this area, called Uighurs have recently been engaging in a bit of a “civil war” with the Communist government.  While most in China don’t even know about the unrest, I’ve learned that as many as 500 have been killed in clashes with the military.  Looking at sites that most Chinese cannot access (accessing via my VPN – virtual private network – the only way to access Facebook and WordPress sites), I see (in the western media) entire columns of Chinese Army tanks and troops heading to the troubled province.

The Chinese government says that the trouble is caused by Islamist revolutionaries who are intent on breaking off the province from China and subjecting the people to Sharia law.  In talking to many Uighurs from China and some businessmen in Mongolia, it seems that the Chinese have been doing some ad hoc “ethnic cleansing” in Xinjiang province in an attempt to dilute the Muslim population with Chinese colonists.  I am told that the uprising is a result of land being confiscated from Muslim Uighurs and given to Chinese colonists who are imported from China proper.  China did much of the same in Tibet and the Mongolians populated the Ulgi province with Kazakh tribesmen to prevent the Chinese from colonizing western Mongolia.

So, it is interesting to see Muslims living peacefully with the Chinese and living peacefully in their own province within China – until the Chinese government instigated conflict with their population movements.  As in Russia and Mongolia, Islam seems to be more of a “culture” and I find that I have more in common with the Russian/Mongolian/Chinese Muslims than I have with the average Israeli who is our supposed “ally.”

In the photo below, an Uighur man is baking bread in a round oven that has been used in Asia for millennia.  The bread is flat and about the size of a small pizza and sells for about .30 cents.  They are Anya’s favorite and we stop to buy a few for the bus ride.  The photo below is of the inside the oven – all coal heat here – no worries about bad air quality!  The dough is pressed to the top of the oven, just inside the rim.  How the bread keeps from falling, and how he can stick is hand in there to pull it out is a mystery to me!

After securing bus tickets, we decided to get some dinner at one of the noodle stands.  There were quite a few to choose from and after a while we settled on one stand and found that standard $1 for a bowl of noodles, vegetables and some pork.

The Chinese couple that runs the stand mix and cook your food right before your eyes.  You simply point to which ingredients that you want and they add them to the cooking in the proper proportions and season to your liking.


Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

Back to home page: http://scotttraveler.com