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.
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.
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.
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.