Oct 11, 2011

Hainan Island, China

Hainan Island 2011 from Andrew Dye on Vimeo.

October Holiday is a popular family holiday in China. Kids don't have school and seems like the Chinese flee to the tourist attractions of China. 

I had found out about Hainan Island before we even set foot into China. I was searching the country for areas to Stand Up Paddleboard. My obsession with SUP has significantly increased throughout the last two years. I spent this past summer racing, planning and paddling the Yukon river Expedition, teaching at Deep Cove and running a SUPFit class as well. I was a little bummed when I found out we were heading to inland China where the ocean is far and most bodies of water are man made and kind of yucky… So, heading out to the ocean for the holidays seemed like a logical choice. My weakness in SUP right now is the surfing part, and if I want to play with the pros then I need to learn to catch waves like the pros. I decided that this year would be a good time to head to some beaches where I could hone my surfing skills and come back to Canada even stronger in the SUP world. So, I searched out and found Surfing Hainan. A very small surfing business in Sanya on Hainan Island, China. I emailed with them a  couple of times and found out they even had SUPs around. The surfing culture and scene has not hit the Chinese just yet. According to many Chinese people, it is foreign and dangerous and gives you dark skin, all of which hinders the ability to make surfing cool among this culture.
Andrew and I were Surfing Hainan’s most avid and experienced SUP visitors thus far. The island is known as the Hawaii of China, hot temperatures, tropical rainforests, waves, fruit, sand beaches, etc. I planned the trip to be half surfing and half bike touring. I love bike touring with a destination goal. So assuming we were heading to a tropical paradise, I pictured surfing and laying on the beach for three days in Sanya followed by riding through the mountains and small villages across the island for another three days finishing in Haikou and flying out of Haikou! Well, we did it all except laying on the beach getting tans… the weather just did not cooperate with us. We managed to arrive at the tail end of Typhoon 1, surf through tropical storm 1 and bike through Tropical storm 2.
We arrived into Sanya, set up our bikes in the airport (Andrew had a nice little audience to show case his bike maintenance skills for) and then biked from the airport to the Raintree Hostel in downtown Sanya. The ride was pleasant as we biked along Sanya Bay to get across town. It was getting dark and we made some wrong turns but managed to beat the rain and the dark to the hostel. After settling in we met the owner:Justin, and he told us about a nice Chinese restaurant not too far along the way. We made our way to Dongbei Ren, and enjoyed some more classier Chinese food. We walked back to the hostel had some beers and then made our way to Dadonghai beach where we walked along the beach and enjoyed some of the more touristy beachside entertainements such as Chinese cover bands, patio restaurants, sandy beaches, tourist shops etc.
The following three days we rented SUPs from Surfing Hainan, and paddled out of the bay in both directions, surfed beach breaks, got told to head back closer to shore by water police and lifeguards, found the fish market, street food, dark beers, and there was a whole lot of walking in the rain!
Wednesday we took off on our bikes. We were headed down the middle road from Sanya to Haikou: 300km, 3 days, and 2 big mountain passes.  Our first night after our first big mountain pass we made it to the mountain town of Wuzhishan. Here, we enjoyed playing pool with the local university students, walking the streets of town, learning how to order bubble tea, eating local street foods, and enjoying the mountain air and views.
The next day was our longest day in distance, time and the most rain. We stopped for lunch in Qiongzhong County where we had to quickly escape the downpour that seemed to follow us all morning. We managed to find a little whole in the wall restaurant that served us fried noodles and garlic fried cabbage. We sat there for awhile trying to wait out the rain until we realized we still had at least 4 hours of riding left and it was 230pm. We put on our goretex jackets for the first time and buckled down and peddled out into the rain again.  We rode all the way to Tunchang County, where we unknowingly bargained down the hotel price by almost 50%, walked around town in the rain, enjoyed ordering more street fried rice, and bubbletea.
The rain kept coming through the next day but we had moments where I thought I was starting to get dry but the rain would time itself pretty perfectly to ensure I didn’t quite dry out completely before soaking me all over again. This was a tough day, the third day in the saddle, the legs were getting tired, the butt was becoming tender and the roads were flatter and straighter. We did bike past many many cows, we saw tons of chickens, geese, ducks, and my favorite pigs roaming the streets and crossing the highway at the leisure. We did get some exciting moments as we neared Hailou, the rain started coming down quite heavily and we managed to follow some scooters through a major traffic jam due to the road being washed away, they were blarring their music, wearing their ghost type rain panchos and managed to squirrel our way around trucks, buses, cars, fast moving water, washed away roads around to the other side. We were grateful for their presence. We ended up riding into town on the opposite side to where we wished to be and had an amusing ride through town through calf deep water along all roads, crazy scooter drivers even in the rain, in a complete down pour. We finally reached the Banana Youth Hostel, enjoyed some fine itlaian pizza from a real Italian chef from italy, beers, ping pong and some beers with some nice Americans that we met. The next day we slept in, enjoyed a late brunch, and a walk around old town Haikou before we had to pack up and fly back to Chongqing. 

Live, love, laugh,...DREAM!

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