Friday, April 17, 2015
Photohunt theme : Ball
It was evening when we reached Wenchang Rail Station. We were lucky to find an honest-looking cab driver who apologised for charging us 30 RMB for the short ride to the hotel. He claimed he had waited 5 hours at the railway station and we were the only customers he had that day. Wenchang is a small, quiet town with few tourist visitors. The locals do not ride cabs usually as the fare price is costly.
After checking into our hotel, we went out to meet our clansmen for dinner. Our association's President came to pick us, hiring motorbikes to bring us to the restaurant. I was apprehensive and scared because both my husband and I had to ride on a motor bike. 3 people on a motorbike and without helmets!
But it was a good experience. It's been a long time since I rode on a motorbike. It costs 6 RMB per bike ride. It is the most common mode of public transport in Wenchang. We arrived at the restaurant safely :D
After our dinner, we went to shop for souvenirs. We were offered Hainan Island Chinese tea which is fragrant and has a slight bitter taste. Several members bought the tea leaves.
We went to a snack shop and bought some snacks to gift our relatives and friends back in Singapore. The prices here are cheaper than in Haikou and Sanya.
After washing up and changing back in our room, we went for foot reflexology and massage (99 RMB per person). The foot massage was so painful but my feet felt good after that. :)
We went to an open air food centre near a river for supper. I didn't dare to eat the food, the others ate traditional Hainanese desserts.
The next day, our association's advisor bought us lunch. He bought fresh seafood from the local market and the famous Hainanese "goi yam" (desexed cockerel 海南阉公鸡) to the restaurant for them to cook.
There were about 12 dishes, some of the food are not easily available in Singapore. I tried a little of every dish so as to taste authentic, traditional Hainanese food. I felt so full after the feast.
My husband's favourite traditional Hainanese snacks - sweet potato balls, deep fried peanut balls and salted egg yolk custard balls!
Thursday, April 16, 2015
The guys woke up before 5 am for their early morning Buddhist studies. The hotel buggy came to pick them up at 5.10 am to the hotel entrance and from there, they walked to Nanshan Temple.
They came back around 7.20 am and we went to the hotel restaurant for a vegetarian breakfast. To our horrors, the whole restaurant was packed with Chinese tourists and there was not much to eat - only fried noodles. The staff were trying their best to replenish the food but every time a new tray of food arrived, it got snapped up.
We had to sit in the driveway eating fried noodles. When they left at 8 am, we were able to get a table and had a leisurely breakfast.
After breakfast, we were walking towards the Guanyin statue and chanced upon this Nanshan Tree House in a tamarind forest in a secluded part of the ecological theme park. We detoured for a closer look.
The tamarind park has more than a thousand tamarind trees which are between 400 - 500 years old. Some of the trees have pictures of babies and charms hang on their trunks. Looks eerie.
The tree house was set at the top of a towering tamarind tree above a sand dune, accessible only by suspension bridge. There was a small path leading to a private beach with a fantastic view of the Guanyin statue.
Studying a map of the park, we would not be able to complete visiting the various attractions if we walk. We decided to take a train ride. We had to go to the main entrance of the park to get the tickets which cost 30 RMB per person.
The train goes around the park taking about 30 mins from start to finish, with many stops along the way. The must-see attractions are the Guanyin statue and the Nanshan temple.
Next to the train ticketing booth was Gold and Jade Guanyin Temple. There is a 3.8-m high gold and jade Guanyin statue (金玉观世音) in the temple. It is made with 100 kg of gold, with 120 carats of South African diamonds embedded on it together with other countless jewels such as pearls, green jade, emeralds and coral.
There is an entrance fee. The guys just offered prayers and we took the train to see the Guanyin statue of the South Sea.
Stunningly beautiful and majestic statue!
The guys offered incense and prayers while I took pictures. I discovered that we have to pay 20 RMB entrance fee to visit the temple, pay for the incense. To go up to the feet of the statue costs 50 RMB or 88 RMB plus a charm. It is annoying that we have to keep paying if we want to see what we came for.
We visited the Nepalese temple before returning to the hotel to pack our luggage and check out. We deposited our luggage with the hotel and had vegetarian lunch before getting the hotel buggy to send us to the main entrance of the park to take a cab to Sanya Railway station.
We were fortunate to get a lady driver who did not attempt to fleece us when we asked her for a quoted fare. I gave her 120 RMB although the meter showed 103 RMB.
Tickets to Wenchang were all sold out for the next two hours. There were people selling scalped tickets (黄牛票). We bought 2nd class train tickets for a much later time and while away the hours drinking tea at a fast food joint. :D
Journey by high speed train from Sanya to Wenchang is about 70 minutes.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
After spending time and money to see the sea, sand and rocks in Sanya, I was not going to waste more resources on Nanshan Big and Small Caves (next destination 大小洞天).
We were all tired after walking so much and the scorching sun was draining our energy, so I made the decision to drive straight to our hotel inside Sanya Nanshan Buddhist Cultural Park (南山佛教文化苑).
We had a slight problem checking in our hotel as Agoda had not sent payment for our rooms and the hotel demanded a 2000 RMB cash deposit. We had paid in full for the rooms a week before our trip so we refused to comply. The hotel finally agreed on 500 RMB cash deposit.
Our hotel is located at the middle of a mountain. From our rooms to the reception desk, restaurant, train stop etc, we have to call for a 6-seater buggy to bring us round. We didn't have to pay for the rides.
The buggy driver doesn't carry our luggage so we had to do it ourselves. Our rooms were huge and face the sea. Lying on the bed, we could see the 108 m high Guanyin statue in the distant. It is larger than the Statue of Liberty.
5.20 pm! We were famished and quickly went out for a meal after depositing our luggage. We went to the hotel restaurant but it was closed. A hotel staff directed us to the park's vegetarian restaurant.
The hotel buggy does not travel in the park so we had to walk to the restaurant which is a 20-minute walk from the hotel. Fortunately, the weather was cool and breezy.
The vegetarian restaurant was empty, it was closing for the day but the staff kindly took our orders and served the dishes pretty fast. Vegetarian dishes and they were so delicious!!
We went back the next day for lunch and the dishes were just as delicious. Food and drinks are a bit pricey here.
It was still early after our early dinner, so we took a walk in the deserted park. We came to a Guanyin temple and posed for some photos with the eighteen lohans, :D
We came across another small temple .... there were quite a few big and small temples within the gigantic park,
There were some designated spots where worshippers hang red charms for good luck.
We saw a huge Nepalese temple in the distance. By now, the park was all quiet and deserted. There were only three of us. It was a fantastic opportunity to snap more pictures - minus the annoying crowds!!
Lots of greenery around us, it's so peaceful.... I love being so close to nature.
The Nepalese temple doors were closed so we could only take pictures of the building.
We returned the next day for prayers only as photography is not allowed inside the building. -_-
I had wanted to continue taking pictures of the Guanyin statue but my brother-in-law was exhausted as he had been walking all day. so we called it a day.
On the way back, the guys stopped by reception to register for early morning Buddhist studies which starts at 5.30 am.
Darkness was creeping in slowly as we walked back to our hotel rooms.