A visit to Sanya , an island at the southern extremity of China, was my first first to China , outside of Hong Kong which I visited a couple of times when it was outside China .I was extremely keen to feel and get the flavour of China but I knew all along that Sanya wouldnt give me this ,as it was completely a tourist resort .A place where the Miss World events have been held quite a few times .And so it was , tourist to the core and clearly not representative of the real China or even the moderized China.
Language was a problem even in this tourism influenced city .Outside of the Hotels and major points of tourist interaction such as airports , English was not spoken and one would need places written in Chinese to be able to move around.Where english was spoken, it was spoken fluently and without traces of an accent.
Tourist sure were ripped off in terms of prices..articles of purchase , taxi fares from Hotels etc.At prime points of tourist interest such as the Li Ethnic Village , prices for articles of tourist purchase where initially priced exhorbitantly .You could reduce by a factor of 5 , 6 or even 10 , with the right bargaining .I disliked bargaining and hence for the few articles I purchased ,spent way above the reasonable price .Just took it as a contribution to the minority community developmentfund ??!!
The Ethnic village tourist set up , was reasonably good entertainment .Well oiled and geared for the tourist . Quite a photographers delight this place was and I enjoyed taking snaps at will .
Even in this remote city or should I say township , the evidence of the focus on infrastructure building was very apparent .Roads were first rate , the airport was great .. infact it had a wonderful ethnic touch with high ceilings huge wooden columns etc.The airport layout was also quite unique and gave a very good first impression .As did the effecient way in which imigration formalities and passport control was organised. We also got to see the domestic airport as we travelled from Sanya to Guanzhou enroute to Delhi .The domestic airport was not so classy , but very spacious and with superb display boards.The international airport at Guanzhou was huge and with massive ceilings and columns ,however not much by way of duty free shopping or even food stalls .Wehad an extremely poor experience of ordering Chicken and not being able to recognize what we were eating .Didnt look at all like chicken .Taste was also not to the liking even for a person like me, who can eat pratically any thing .Our fault though,as we had the option of eatingsaner stuff such as ham and cheese sandwitches and the like.
By and large the people were friendly and helpful even when language was a barrier .One could clearly see a work ethos were people performed their roles in a manner required of the role and with consistency .Role aceptance seemed high. This was not a place were people rebelled or had contra views .Yet one saw little signs of dissatisfaction or discontentment . We saw too little outside of the hotel premises where we stayed to be in a position to judge or comment on issues such as these.The kind of compexity that one sees in India in terms of caste , religion & language differences and the freedom of speach and expression that can often lead to unresolvable differences in points of view , were completely absent here.Nor did we see any overbearing presence of police or security forces .Though we did see a posse of police cars gathered at one point and a youth being led away in handcuffs.
We had a wonderful stay at Hilton Sanya at Lalong Bay, a place where all the major hotel chains had set up resorts .The room was quite fabulous and in keeping with the new style one has seen in major hotels in Europe the bedroom and bath practically merged !!!???Seperated only by a curtain , which stayed drawn during the day so that the bath and toilet facilities were an integeral part of the bedroom . Could be quite a problem if one was sharingthe room with any one other than ones spouse , I should think.
The service and friendliness of the staff was outstanding .
I came away from Sanya with pleasant memories , but the urge to see and experience the real or even the modernized China still remains strong .Hopefully new oportunites will come our way, now that the Nokia Regional HQ has shifted from Singapore to China !!!