Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hainan Island, China: Wugong Temple in Haikou

Wugong Temple (Five Officials Temple): This temple ranks with Hairui Tomb as a must-see in Haikou, capital of Hainan. During the Tang Dynasty these five officials were banished to Hainan for criticising the emperor.

Typical Chinese architectural styles in the two pictures above.

A unique Chinese bridge over a pond.

A pond filled with lilies is part of the landscaping.

A pavillion: rest your aching legs here, and perhaps compose a poem in the tranquil setting.

Wugong Temple consists of several buildings which can easily take up to an hour to explore. After exploring every nook and corner of the temple, I rewarded myself with a well-deserved lunch at the cosy restaurant near the temple's entrance.

One of the springs attributed to the miraculous intervention of one of the five officials.

Wugong Temple is easily reached by a 15-minute bus ride from central Haikou.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hainan Holiday: Tomb of Hairui and Wugong Temple in Haikou

I've always wondered why my parents gave me the Chinese name "Rui", which is a rare name for Chinese, until I went to Hainan, then I understood.

Apparently I was named after Hairui who was a high-ranking official during the Ming Dynasty. For his outspokenness he was banished to Hainan. Today, The Tomb of Hairui, is a must-see for most tourists.

                              Hairui, famous for his incorruptibility.

Aside from Hairui Tomb, the other well-known historical site is Wugong Temple (5 Officials Temple).

Both are in Haikou, the capital of Hainan, and easy for a DIY trip. I took a 1 yuan bus to these two places. Hairu Tomb is bit further away on the outskirts (about 30 mins bus ride) but Wugong is a mere 15 minutes away from central Haikou.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hainan: Do they spit anymore?

Betel nuts stalls: Hainan has the culture of chewing betel nuts.

Apart from the search for the elusive Hainan version of chicken rice, I was also curious to know if spitting in public is still the habit among the Chinese. I haven't been back to China for at least ten years so  I was naturally curious to find out.

It didn't take me long.

They spit everywhere: in shopping malls (into litter bins), pavements, gardens, parks, from buses and so on.

Maybe the youths should know better than their elders. I was wrong.

Travelling in an inter-city bus, the young man in front of me kept spitting out of the window at least a dozen times.

Aside from this spitting culture, there's also the culture of chewing betel nuts in Hainan Island. The pavements everywhere are splattered with red spittle as a result. Disgusting.

Never knew they chew betel nuts in Hainan. It came as a total surprise to me frankly.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chicken rice in Hainan

A chicken stall in  a village: not the chicken rice as we know it.

Beef stall: popular in most cities

Pow or Chinese  buns: found everywhere. But the bean pow was not to my taste.

Finger treats: the packet on the right nearest to the  camera used to be my favourite during Chinese New Year but these days they are hard  to find. So I was delighted to find them in Hainan, and promptly bought some.

Don't be surprised to see this warning in Chinese restaurants

Chicken rice is a very popular dish in both Singapore and Malaysia. Many people are curious whether chicken rice in Hainan and in this region is the same. After all it originated from there.
So, when I landed in Hainan after a short flight from Shenzhen chicken rice was my preoccupation. Wherever I went it was the main thing in my mind.

It wouldn't be that hard to spot chicken hanging in a stall I assured myself.

But the familiar chicken rice stall so common in Singapore and Malaysia was nowhere to be seen. It was only in a small town called Wuzhishan in the mountains that I spotted one. At last!

On enquiry I was told that I had to buy either half the chicken or the whole thing. And the rice is not chicken rice but plain rice. I gave up.

The second time was in a village. I was told the same thing. Forthwith I lost interest in Hainan chicken rice. No loss as their chicken looked  unappetizing, honestly.

In China, I noticed there is the Chinese version of fast food which is more popular. Choose your dishes, find a seat and someone will provide you with chopsticks after ticking off the food items on a list. Pay after your meal at the cashier

.As for chicken rice, give me the Singaporean or Malaysian version any time.

 Don't waste your time looking for the real thing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hainan Villages Part 2

If you're a teacher you might be interested in this post. Exploring a village, I was delighted to come across this school and its students.
Entrance to this farming village framed by the traditional Chinese arch.

Most of the villagers here are farmers.

A village school. Most of the rural schools I've seen in SE Asia are small and modest but this one in Hainan is big and impressive.
Like kids elsewhere, these kids were playful, cheerful and  chatty.
Did you realise they don't wear uniform?

Friendly kids.

Walking across the farmland  to their homes.

Most of their parents are farmers. This farmer is ploughing the padi field.

Rural folks are still superstitious. The decorated doorway here is to ward off evil spirits and to seek blessings for prosperity for instance.

A modest farmer's home.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hainan Villages Part 1

Big cities are all about the same, and Hainan island is no exception. I was more interested in its villages. With property development in a frenzy, will Hainan villages be razed? 

A small shop making Chinese buns.

In the backlanes of villages, this is allowed.
And so is this.
A village provisions store.
A typical Chinese arch found in most villages.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Party time in Sanya, Hainan Island, China

Hey, no photo OK?: Russian getting scorched by the sun

One of the pleasures of Sanya beach is people-watching. It was the first time I saw the Chinese having a good time at the beach but not as brave as this Russian lass.
A 3-wheeler cab found throughout Hainan Island.
I was surprised to see this Chinese Muslim lady who was hawking trinkets.

Apart from coconuts, sugar cane is also popular.
Restaurants sit right on the beach, catering mostly to Russian tourists.

The hordes of Russians are well fed and entertained every night. It's party time every night, culminating in a shower of fireworks.