Dongjiao Coconut Grove
Situated at Dongjiao Town in the eastern section of Hainan, the coconut grove stretches on for 15 km.
There are two million coconut trees here. That’s a lot of coconuts.
One story of how the coconut trees got here goes something like this: originally, there was no coconut tree in Hainan. But they were abundant on the Malay Peninsula. One day, some coconuts fell from the tree, rolled into the ocean, got carried away by the currents, drifted on the sea like Robinson Crusoe, and eventually washed up on the beach in Hainan.
Dongzhai Harbour Mangrove Nature Reserve
My earliest memory of mangrove comes from middle school geography textbook. The Chinese name of mangrove is 红树林, which literally translates into “red trees”. Then the teacher showed us pictures of mangrove, and I felt cheated. For years, I held onto the belief that whoever named the mangrove in Chinese might have been colour-blind.
Until a wine appreciation workshop. Mangroves contain tannic acid, the same staff that gives a dry taste to wines. When the tree branches break, the tannic acid gets exposed to air and turns red.
Over 200 species of birds, 115 types of molluscs, 119 types of fish, 70 types of crabs and over 40 types of shrimp live here. So, a good place for birdwatchers.
Ducks gather at the tidelands, chasing after fish and shrimp washed ashore.
These free-range ducks that feed on natural seafood are extremely popular as a source of eggs and as a source of meat.
This is what a duck egg produced by one of these ducks look like:
At low tide, you can also find these tiny crabs with blue carapace. Their scientific name is mictyris brevidactylus. But in Chinese, they are known as 和尚蟹, monk crabs. Also called soldier crabs.
You know how most crabs walk sideways? Monk crabs can walk along a straight line, like humans. Each crab only weighs two grams.
Some people keep them as pets (because they’re small? Easy to carry, I guess.) while some people make them into crab sauce.
Ducks and crabs are not the only ones who know how to take advantage of a low tide.
With a shovel and a big bag, residents can pick up dozens of crabs, fish, and other creatures stuck in mud.
It used to be a small fishing village.
Until it became the permanent location for Boao Forum for Asia, which is like an Asian version of Davos.
The international conference centre.
It’s not just the Venetians who live on water.
Each of these squares is a tiny aquatic farm.
If you’re tired of restaurant food, you should come here for authentic fishermen’s dishes.
You can reach the fishing boats by cable car.
Another stop you can make on the way is this mountain, home to thousands of macaques.
Experts at camouflage.
The macaques have their social cliques. There are 24 groups, or clans here, each with their own set of rules, territory, and hierarchy.
Most of them are pretty small, weighing less than 10 kg, but that doesn’t stop them from picking a fight when they see a macaque from a neighbour clan pass through their territory.
Some of the clans even have their own swimming pool.
To think that a monkey lives in a better house than me . . .
I hope they’re nicer than the Tibetan macaques, a group of notorious bandits who live on Mount Emei in Sichuan.
Sometimes they get curious.
Sometimes they get clingy.
But other times they’re like this:
Datian Eld’s Deer Nature Reserve
Eld’s deer are an endangered species. They used to be hunted for food and for their antlers.
A paradise for scuba divers.
Or you can take your sailboat out for a spin.
The latest craze is wearing a water jet pack.
We’re going to the Snack Street next, all this talk about ducks and crabs and fish are making me hungry.