The world is full of hidden wonders and I often find myself rushing out in search of the wild and unknown. Seeing what trouble I can get myself into. It is the thrill of unpredictability, the big question marks, not knowing where I will be sleeping that night and what types of characters I will run into that I love. Traveling without a plan has been one of the greatest changes I have made to the way I choose to see the world. Besides the start and end everything else in-between is a blank page. Maybe there is a sight here or there I would like to see, but nothing is booked prior. No hotel arrangements, tour groups or pesky promises. Arriving somewhere, only to let the ebb and flow scoop me up.
I recently got back from my latest adventure. Before I chose to do the trip I had thrown around a number of places I could go that I had never been to before. There were a number of ambitious and safe decisions floating around. I was tossing ideas up and shooting them down as time ticked ever closer to the beginning of the Chinese National Holiday. When I came to think that right outside my backdoor there was a whole world I have barely explored. This is how Staycation Hainan was born.
The tentative idea was to explore the inner reaches of the Island. Though Sanya is International tourist destination that is known for it’s beaches and sunny weather year-round, the interior is without a doubt almost completely devoid of tourism. This is what interested me. Prior to this I had done some exploring of a few nearby areas, but never more than a two day excursion. I chose a few spots on the map that I thought I would like to see and left on my motorbike into the relative unknown.
My days of riding were full of sunshine and rolling mountains. Ox carts and smiling people with years of hard work marking their faces. Unexpected encounters, towering dams, rushing waterfalls, pirate ships and lighthouses. I took off at a time where the rice fields are almost ready for harvest and the rainy season has made everything green, green and more green. It was a literal rush of fresh air. To go places few foreigners have explored. To meet people who typically only see western people from their televisions. To share a cup to tea, another gulp of Tsingtao, a new food, to tell my story, to hear theirs, to make someone smile for a moment, to get lost and always feel like you were right on track. The interior and western coast of Hainan is a place often overlooked. An absolute hidden wonder of South East Asia. Where you can see beautiful beaches, rolling mountains, clear waterfalls, bright green terraces and a vibrant local culture. China is an amazingly large country. One with hidden wonders beyond all recognition.
After taking this trip I have a greater respect for the place where I live. The people who share this island and the struggles of their labour. Life for the majority of the people is absolutely removed from the bustling big cities. Living through different types of stress than their city counterparts. I cannot say simple lives with a notion of romanticism, because they are anything but simple. Family, dedication, the land, hard work and appreciation of life’s forgotten pleasures are thoughts which come to mind. This is not the China where your shirts are made. Not the factory outlet, but the self-sufficient back break.
When you find yourself idly staring at map thinking of taking a travel chance, try considering those little known places. The one’s right in front of you. Take the vacation where you adventure into your own unknown. My route took me from Sanya, to the mountains of Wuzhishan, further north to Baisha, westward to coastal Dongfang and back through the beauty of Ledong. Places almost anonymous, but an adventure I will never forget. Staycation at it’s finest. Right outside my door. So next time you are planning a trip, looking to far off places for adventure and wonder, don’t forget to explore outside your door first.