Wheels on the bus chinese version:
The goose on the bus going honk honk honk...
Located on an island in the southern most point of china, Hainan is referred to as Chinese Hawaii for it's long sandy beaches, tropical fruit, and vibrant culture. Here we found a world very different from the China we had gotten used to. The pace was more laid back, the local tongue was closer to Vietnamese (according to a fellow traveler), and the climate was that of thick muggy air, and lush tropical vegetation.
The inner island was especially spectacular. We travelled to Haikou Volcanic Cluster Geopark, just a half hour bus trip from the capital where we were staying. There we walked along the rim of an extinct volcano which gave us a view of the city. We could also see two cystic volcanic craters just out side of the hiking zone.
Once completing the rim loop we descended a set of uneven stone steps into the depths of the crater! The deadly hot pool of liquid rock had been replaced by thick green forest. A wall of hanging ferns rose high above our heads, wide green branches partially covering the entrance to a shallow cave. We collected some volcanic rock to bring home as souvenirs.
We had made a new friend; Eby from Indonesia. Despite large amounts of Chinese beers the night before, and only two hours of sleep, she had decided to tag along. Her eyes were half closed for most of the trip, but she managed to open them for pictures every 10 meters. "Help me-uh, help me-uh pleease Jenn!" she would say each time she stopped, handing me her phone and rushing over to pose. Half the time she moved before I was able to take the photo!
We left the park and got on a bus heading uphill as instructed by Larina, our new serbian friend who had refused to pay the 60 RMB park entrance fee despite following us all the way there, and had apparently gotten bored, met a tour guide, and wandered off to an ancient village made entirely of volcanic rock. From the bus we got on a small motor cab and pointed to the village's name in my travel guide, and we were off, only to see Larina's blond head bobbing up and down on the side walk 100 m away. Somehow we squeezed her and the tour guide on the to the tiny bike and built in side car and we were off again!
There was a bunch of old women in rice hats guarding the entrance to the city and asking tourists to pay 10 RMB. Our guide got us in for free. He knew all the best shots, so he took pictures for us and of us as we wondered through small stone shacks with large vats made of pottery that would once have been used to collect rain water run off. Eby kept saying "Nice place, wow nice place," as if she wanted to move in!
After the ancient city he led us down a path towards an extensive network of volcanic tunnels. He picked up three torches to light the way. The tunnels were not pitch black like I had imagined them being, there were holes in the roof that let in streams of natural light. Trees routes and branches hung down through them, and in some cases trunks were routed in the cave and rose though the holes and out the top!
Eventually we left the serene magical scene, but the fun wasn't over yet. Our guide found a star fruit tree, and before we knew it he was up in it like a monkey shaking it's branches to make the fruit fall!
The rest of our trip was filled with coconut drinks, fresh fruit, sugar cane, and massages. Not such a bad way to spend your weekend.