Hainan is the southernmost province in China.
It, and the myriad surrounding islands, occupy an aquatic territory that’s about one quarter of China’s land size.
Hainan has long been the topic of many conversations in China: it’s where the bodhisattva Guanyin reputedly lives, its seafood and tropical fruits, and most recently, while the rest of the country welcome Chinese New Year wrapped up like a cocoon, like this:
People in Hainan are still dressed like this:
No wonder it’s one of the most popular winter holiday destinations in China.
Our journey today starts at the volcano Mount Ma’anling, then the city of Haikou, Mulantou Lighthouse, Lingaojiao Lighthouse, and Bingmajiao Lighthouse.
Hainan means “south of the sea”. The sea actually refers to the 30-km wide Qiongzhou Strait that separates Guangdong from Hainan.
Hainan is the second largest island in China.
The entire island is 108 square kilometres.
But it has over 40 volcanoes.
Mount Ma’anling is the most famous one.
Vegetation has taken over the volcano, and a park is built here.
You can walk all the way to the bottom of the volcano 69 metres underground.
The last time the volcano erupted was over 13,000 years ago.
But it’s still a dormant volcano, so, you know, head to the bottom of the crater at your own risk.
A ferry can cross the Qiongzhou Strait in 50 minutes.
If you don’t like ferries, you can take the train. Yes there’s a train that travels across the strait.
It looks like this:
Once the ferry reaches Port of Nangang, it connects with railway tracks first.
Then the carriages are pulled out and reassembled into a train.
The city of Haikou is the first stop along the railway.
Over 90% of the goods that pass through Hainan are processed at Port of Haikou.
The Nandu River joins the sea here, hence the name of Haikou—“mouth of the sea”.
The old street of Qilou. It’s really really old. The oldest building here was built more than 700 years ago.
Most of the buildings here are shophouses, with a shop on the ground floor and residential units above.
Typical Southeast Asian architectural style.
People have been travelling to Southeast Asia from this place since the Qing Dynasty.
Hainan is the largest Special Economic Zone in China.
Situated on the northern tip of the island, the lighthouse has been guiding sailors and fishermen since 1958.
It’s not so lonely now, joined by its many friends—wind turbines.
The older brother of Bingmajiao—Lingaojiao Lighthouse.
Also the prettiest lighthouse in Hainan.
It’s over 120 years old.
This is where the People’s Liberation Army landed and liberated Hainan.
It overlooks dangerous waters.
This used to be the burial ground of many a ship.
Its original name—木烂头, which means “smashed wood”, is a reference to the unfortunate fate of these ships.
Measuring 74 metres, this is the tallest lighthouse in China.
Once you’re in Hainan, of course you can’t leave without trying the local delicacies. You would think for an island, the most popular dishes would be seafood. That’s only partially true. The Hainanese are obsessed with chicken.
Wenchang chicken, white-cut chicken, chicken rice, coconut chicken, yellow chicken, chicken soup . . .
Rumour has it that they name their chickens based on the dates and occasions they will be eaten, like this:
These chickens are named: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Chinese New Year’s Eve, National Day . . .
Even when they run out of chicken they still can’t stop thinking about it, like this guy, who tries to hypnotise himself into thinking that he’s eating a drumstick:
No matter how fierce or awesome the chicken is:
it can’t escape the fate of ending up on someone’s plate: