We follow our route further along the coast in a northerly direction. In the morning, we first have the accompaniment of another cyclist who has stayed with us in the cyclist station. He happens to come from the area where Florence lives and so they have a lot to talk about for a while. The track remains flat for the day and till the end of the tour – rarely the profile is slightly wavy.
After leaving the X435, which heads east from Shenzhou Island across a fairly new bridge, there is hardly any traffic around us. We continue our journey near the coast and after a few kilometers, the road runs parallel to a longer stretch of beach.
Before that we pass an area with many larger bassins for fish farming, as we already saw in last evening, when we came from the other direction. The motorized paddle wheels, with which the water is ventilated, we also have seen several times in the coastal area, yesterday, and these pools remind me strong to the south of Thailand, where I had seen such in even greater numbers. Also with more paddle wheels per pool. There it was prawns, here are fish the size of carp, which are brought with nets from one of the basins and squeezed into water-filled styrofoam boxes. Then they are loaded on small trucks. On the other side of the road stand several water buffalos on a kind of pasture, a larger group of these animals, which one sees otherwise sometimes stand alone in humid lowlands or on harvested rice fields.
We can’t get directly to the beach, a narrow strip of coniferous forest of about 100 to 200 meters shields the coastline from the road and only every few hundred meters there is a narrow access. Partially a bit hidden and neglected – amazing that hardly anyone is to be found, where the beach itself is natural and a few kilometers long. However, this place is also a few kilometers away from the next block of hotels.
A good opportunity for a short break in the shade under the trees, because the sky is only slightly cloudy, the sun heats the air in the morning quickly back to about 28 – 29° C. On the beach lies a grounded fish trawler, which was apparently washed in rough sea here. Storms are probably not uncommon in the South China Sea.
According to the map, the road continues to lead us always close to the coast on a narrowing headland, bordered on by a large lake on the landside, which flows successively after some kilometers as Long Wei River into the sea. The road should lead consistently over this relatively wide river, but ends there abruptly on a quay wall. A motorized floating pontoon commuting over the water makes the ferry here. Not suitable for cars, but full of motorcycles chugs the thing on the rather quiet river, past a variety of swimming fish tanks and fishing boats.
Near the village of Hele our new companion, of who Florence once complained that he would ask too many questions, leaves us again. His English, however, is only rudimentary, so that he could barely talk to me during the short time. He wants to go back to Wanning, which is a little further inland at the intersection of several highways and which we have now widely traveled, and from there with a bus to Haikou and further home. No problem on the bus with his folding bike.
In the smaller cities there is always a busy life and the traffic gets confusing. Many shops and small stalls on the street offer food, fruit, housewares, there are often also some food stalls and many people look more on the goods or the offer, and no one is regarding its own environment. Since I am often slowed down, I have to constantly keep my eyes open in all directions, because a motorized two-wheeler likes to start just when I’m at the same height, or just around the corner, when I pass the junction. Rarely does anyone stop immediately, just because a bicycle comes along. But because of the fact that I just have to swim with the traffic and that I can safely ignore the many horns around me, I got used to this in the meantime.
If our neighborhood near Shenzhou was an idyll, Bo’ao is quite a hotspot again. The city is home not only to the ‘Boao Forum for Asia’, an NGO that organizes national conferences, but here you also can find the largest Buddhist monastery in Hainan, on the outskirts of the city, which also has an apparently popular museum attached to it. The visitors come in any case in large numbers sometimes with buses there.
We reach the city in the late afternoon after more than 90 km drive and find relatively quickly a cheap guesthouse in a quiet side street near the old center.
The next morning we get the already mentioned noodle soup with the Muslim brethren. The back wall of the small guest room adorns a mural of a large mosque. The sky is cloudy as we sit on the wheels and drive off, at about 24° C.
From the old town center of the town of Bo’ao there is not much left, the development of the north-facing street quickly changes into more modern architecture and high-rise residential buildings. But we leave the exit road quite quickly and continue with slight tailwind northward through the village settlements along the coast to Tanmen, and later we continue along the bay between Changpo and Huiwen.
Tomatoes are cultivated on fields next to the road, and the fruits are predominantly the size of cocktail tomatoes. In addition, zucchini-like fruits are grown, which grow like tomatoes on climbing plants and are quite large.
Hainan is a very green island. Where land is not used for agriculture or for structures or buildings, nature seems to quickly overgrow what is not part of it. That sometimes is evident on the roadside, where behind the ditch nothing except vegetation comes, but this is rarely the case in the coastal area. There is virtually no sign of any wildlife, except for some snakes that were too careless on the road. It seems that there must be a lot of snakes, but I didn’t see any alive.
In Wenchang we want to jump again with a ferry over the local, about half a kilometer wide river, as the bridge of the long distance road S201 would rather bring us a detour. Florence wants to ride a bit through the ‘Coconut Forest’, which extends a little further south on the opposite bank. But we have to look for the ferry when the road to the harbor ends surprisingly in the midst of a covered market.
On the quay wall there are two barges, or better, two small boats waiting for customers. One is ready to take off and the owner of the other boat – Ms. Wang, as the name tag on her oily pullover tells us – gives us sign that we have to wait until there are enough passengers together, but she will take us to the desired spot further south on the opposite side and settle us down the bank – for even 10 yuan more she would bring us at once. I think that’s a very good price, in a quasi private trip, so we unload the luggage, bring the wheels and bags over the bow on the partially covered boat, while the boss refueled the machine in the rear. A single-cylinder engine, similar to those used for universal single-axle tractors in local agriculture.
She sets out with us and skilfully maneuvers the boat between the larger fishing boats and various other ships that are anchored, begins to telephone heavily and soon heads for a point on the opposite bank. It takes about 10 minutes to land between several similarly sized boats. We’re not supposed to get off here, but instead more people are coming in, six friendly locals who seem to be the cause of the phone call.
The journey continues for another 10 minutes, now along the shore in a southerly direction, to another pier where Florence and I alight. The other passengers can be chauffeured even further and wave us goodbye when we leave.
Through narrow and quiet, all-concreted forest roads we continue through the lush vegetation, as far as Dongjiao. Coco palms stand close to this narrow street and the sloping palm trees overhang it often, the crowns full of coconuts. It is certainly only a matter of time and then statistics, when the next nut falls on a vehicle and how many people have been harmed by it. A bicycle helmet is unlikely to be able to do much justice to down dashing nuts, I think, as I drive under the many threatening nuts.
From Dongjiao it is still about 15 km, which we mostly drive along the developed long-distance connection along the coast. The terrain is slightly profiled and the climbs are almost dead straight. Shortly before the branch to Longlou then a well-secured museum on the roadside, and in the distance towards the coast, I can see several high, rectangular halls, assembly halls for space rockets. I did not really realize that Hainan also has a spaceport. Later, at a crossroads in town, I see a model of a ‘Long March’ rocket standing beside the crossing.
Longlou is more of a sleepy nest. But the guest house we find in a side street is relatively new and the spacious room offers enough space to even tenter the clothesline and hang up the last of all wet things. I leave the air conditioning in dehumidifying mode and the next morning everything is actually dry.
From Longlou to Haikou there are still just over 100 km, which we tackle the next day and, thanks to the slightly gusty wind from the east, travel faster than expected. Even if we do not choose the direct route along the S201 trunk. However, there is not much variety along the route, but the weather does hold through and the rain back, even if the clouds gradually increase and later in Haikou even unpleasantly cool wind comes up.
About 40 km from the city center we make a little late lunch break in the afternoon, as the sun comes through the clouds for a long time, in the town that actually falls under the administration of the Greater Haikou. But until then it went well, I didn’t want to interrupt too early, the now hunger is strong. There is once again noodle soup with royale, and as there is also on display some baked goods, for dessert, a little too sweet, we take some fluffy pastry.
A short time later, the traffic is also much denser and around the airport, that we have to pass directly, is due to construction sites dense traffic jam. Haikou is just a big city and as soon as we reach the inner city area, we leave the wide roads on the left and drive for several kilometers on a promenade, which stretches north along the banks of the Haikou River. Unfortunately, it ends abruptly because of a shoreline site and we have to drive along the road.
But it’s not far to the Banana Hostel, the river makes a 90° bend and separates the northern part of Haikou, the actual inner city, as an island from the rest of the city, the vast majority. We use the third of the bridges over the river, where lanes for two-wheelers are available. A nice tour around the island Hainan ends after about 677 kilometers.
Tomorrow we will travel to Hai’an on the mainland by one of the many ferries, where I will continue my journey through a part of southern China towards Macau, while Florence then goes home with a night bus.