These days we arrange every aspect of our trips online, which gives us complete control over where we go and what we do. Taking that a step further, we now work out a rough frame of our holiday at home, book the necessary airfares and other critical items before we leave, then work out and book the rest of our travel on the go.
Sometimes though, you get invited on holidays where the planning is done completely by someone else. Our friend Miki arranged to get married in a resort near Sanya, a town along the south coast of a tropical Chinese island named Hainan. She made all the arrangements, including airfares and accommodation and just sent us an itinerary. As we had just spent five weeks working our way around South Korea and Japan, a week stuck in a tropical beachside resort didn’t seem like a terrible idea.
We flew out of Sydney around 10pm on Friday night, arriving at Ghangzou for a few hours before connecting to Hainan airport, arriving around 10am Saturday morning. We were picked up by Miki and her uncle, and driven to the Sanya Intercontinental Resort, which was to be our home for the next 6 nights.
The resort was fine, at least for the first few days. Great food and restaurants, modern gym, nice grounds and beach: it even had its own aquarium. But good resorts are often isolated, and as the wedding approached I found myself wanting to get out and mix with the locals. An advantage to organizing your own trip is a great awareness of where you are and how to get around, as this was needed to get you to where you currently are. When someone else has arranged everything, and you’re in a country that actively blocks Google Maps and other useful online trip planning tools, things can get a bit tricky. None the less I started making plans to visit the main town on Wednesday.
The wedding was held on Monday and all went well. The ceremony and reception were held in a long aquarium tunnel and we were all surrounded by water and tropical fish, which made for a unique experience. Miki and Lloyd could have taken it a step further if they wanted to and even gotten married underwater, but decided this would be hell on Miki’s makeup and dropped the idea.
By Tuesday we had worked out how to get a hotel shuttle bus into Sanya, and had a rough idea where to go, but Miki’s family were hearing none of it, insisting they take us on a tour by car. We just shrugged and agreed.
We set off just before lunch on Wednesday; our first stop was an interesting boulevard along the beach just before the main Sanya town. We spent an hour or so walking around, checking out the stalls and the beach.
The Russian Place
There were many foreigners around, and it turned out they were mostly Russian. Apparently many Russians travel to Tropical Sanya to enjoy their yearly holidays as it is a cheap alternative to Europe for them. There were also many Russian themed restaurants and bars around, adding to the interesting atmosphere.
We stopped at another beach on the way to town before having a snack at a popular boating café.
Sanya Beach Walk
Our last and most interesting destination was a long strip of beach in town that was used as a photo back drop for bridal couples. There must be many couples that come to Sanya to get married, as we saw no less than twenty bridal parties taking set pictures along the beach, including set ups with cars, horses and a category I will label as ‘other’. The make-up area stretched from the toilet block well into the car park.
We traveled around town, admiring the interesting architecture. The island was in the midst of a building boom, and we were told once an apartment block reached a certain age it was torn down and replaced with a newer version within a few weeks, one of the benefits of a state run construction business, I guess.
Apple Tree Apartments
We had dinner in an authentic local Chinese restaurant, where I enjoyed the local Hainan Chicken the most. We left for Sydney on Thursday, arriving back on Friday morning. The trip was relaxing and we were certainly grateful for being invited, but it left me with an appreciation for the way I currently plan all my trips. Although it is a fair bit of extra work planning everything yourself, the benefits of control and freedom of movement cannot be overstated, and to me are the essence of traveling.
Get more stuff like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.