Tag Archives: Hainan

Last Days in China….

The last few days in Sanya, have been a bit hectic. I met a lot of nice people, finished a second book I’ll be announcing soon, found a great, reasonably-priced apartment (with a kitchen) for anytime I return to Sanya, and two days before I was scheduled to leave, my camera died, which meant I had to do something I hate doing: shopping. (I think I have evidence the camera I got is knock-off…stay tuned.) But before I tell you where I’m off to next, I’ll share some shots from The Last Days in China.

Met up with couchsurfer, Gemma at one of the hostels  in the area!

Met a new friend at Wang Hao Supermarket and we hung out a few days later at the amusement park near the UFO hotel. Turns out the ladies are new Mary Kay reps in Sanya! I have a warm spot in my heart for Network Marketing companies, as the one I had joined many years ago helped free me from corporate confinement to live true to my self!

Hang on, ladies!

Afterwards, we had dinner and a great time!

Said a few goodbyes to the ladies at Wang Hao who had gotten in the habit of seeing me come to buy my raw cashews every day at the same time!

I met June at Wang Hao supermarket. She was right behind me on line and helped me out when I was having trouble asking for change for the bus. She ended up being a vital part of my gastric happiness in Sanya (think “sea salt,” but keep it a secret)….

June also helped me purchase the camera I now use to document my travels. Yes, this shot was staged with the camera I had just purchased.

The sales girl who took my money!

Hung out with June and friend at a cafe overlooking Sanya Bay!

Posed for the obligatory Jamaican in China photos

and again…and again….

dinner in Sanya
Norway meets China. Harald, from Norway and Pan Hui, from China! Harald and Pan Hui helped me look for apartments…Harald, a dentist from a former life, is a great thinker and conversationalist..

Solved the world’s challenges with Harald…..(Next time, look at the camera, Harald!)

dinner in Sanya

Had the greatest vegetarian meal in Sanya, courtesy of a dinner invitation from my friend from the beach, Norwegian artist (painter) Jan Erik, and author wife Feng Xian Lin. They’ve also co-authored, designed and published various books. You can check out Jan’s paintings at www.willgohs.info

Hunan cooking and culture Feng Xian Lin

One of the books Fenx Xian Lin authored is a Hunan cooking and culture book. So you know I was treated to some great food….my last night in Sanya…darn….Now, I’ll have to wait until I return to show up un-announced with my chopsticks in hand and nothing in my stomach!

China meets Romania

Beijing transplant, Sandy and Romanian expat, Adrian…Can’t wait to hang a bit longer next time!

Eyes on Singapore…..Did he say, Singapore?????

Secret Sanya Sea Salt Safari! (…..don’t tell anybody!)

The ebook edition is completed, but my writing energies are still being diverted towards completing the paperback edition of Living True to Your Self. However, I’ve been able to raise my standard of living here in Hainan:

I was able to locate sea salt here in Sanya. Now, that may not seem like earth-shattering news to you, but it is for me.  I don’t eat table salt (check the ingredients of your favorite brand of supermarket-bought salt, and note the dextrose (sugar), aluminum (think “Alzheimer’s), and other unnecessary anti-caking and otherwise harmful ingredients. Sanya, being a coastal town should have natural sea salt readily available, right? You would think.

However, the authorities have convinced the people that consuming sea salt is bad and that it is most often contaminated. Whether true or not, it takes a bit of asking and searching to find it, as vendors are forbidden to sell it openly, and one has to ask (with the help of a Chinese person), the right questions, the right people, and, presumably not appear to be a government plant searching for violators.

I won’t reveal my methods, my contacts, or my supplier. I’ll just show you the hand-off.

Sea salt on Hainan

Psssst. Hey, buddy, wanna buy some sea salt?

Living True to Your Self


  • Living True To Your Self! by Walt F.J. Goodridge
    Here’s the front and back cover copy for my new book,
    Living True to Your Self.I’m very excited about it, as it was first conceived exactly one year ago this week, but didn’t get the “green light” from the universe and my muse until I landed here in Hainan, China. So, technically, it’s the book that has taken the longest for me to write! You might consider this the “prequel” to Turn Your Passion Into Profit, as it lays the foundation for the belief system that makes turning your passion into profit possible! It’s scheduled for paperback release on or about March 15, 2011, but as a visitor to my blog, you can get an advanced preview! See offer below!

    No one can teach you
    how to live true to your self!
    Living true to your self is a unique experience
    that only
    you can teach you.

    But, what if…

    But, what if you knew someone who did it? What if you had a friend who discovered his own secret, reclaimed his power, broke free from conventional ways of thinking and living, reinvented himself, escaped the rat race, and was right now living true to himself, happily creating his dream lifestyle traveling the world from a home base on a tropical island… with the freedom and the “effortless income” stream to prove it?

    What if he were willing to recall and share with you not just what he did, but how he did it? In other words, what if he shared with you, in detail, what he truly believes about himself, about other people, and about the world? What if he shared how he motivates himself, what he actually says (or never says) to himself in order to keep going, even what he thinks about at night? What if he shared what he does (and never does), when he does it, and even what he eats in order to create (and sustain) his dream life?

    What if he were willing to do all that, and you were willing to listen? You just might pick up a valuable tip, an effective strategy, a game plan, a way of seeing your self, other people, and the world that you never thought of before. It might be something subtle, or it might be some significant information, inspiration or idea that could make all the difference in your private journey to reclaim YOUR power, break free of YOUR limitations, and live true to YOUR self!

    Take The Living True Survey Before (and after) ordering
    And here’s the special offer: Order the paperback now, using the link below, and you’ll be able to download the ebook right away. Then, when the paperback is ready in a few weeks, I’ll send that to you as well! It’s a win, win situation!

    (c) 2011 Walt Goodridge. All rights reserved.

    6 x9; 216 pages; $16.00.

    www.LivingTrueToYourSelf.com (read more!)
    Order now


  • A Chinese Capitalism Primer Or “Would You Buy a Used Papaya from This Man?”

    All the produce in China is priced per 500g. So, when you see a sign announcing 2.20RMB for a papaya, it actually means 2.20RMB/500g, or 4.40RMB/kg. Now, then, I’ve figured out why they do that–it’s to confuse the tourists! No, really. I can prove it.

    Fruits in China
    Fruits in China
    Fruits in China

    Most tourists, say an American (or a Jamaican who used to live in New York), thinks in terms of pounds. 1kg is actually 2 lbs, so when I see 2.20RMB, I think it’s 2.20RMB per pound, but it’s not. That’s confusing enough, but here’s where the trick comes in. The street vendors who sell produce use an entirely different system of computing prices. It’s called “free market, mood-based opportunity capitalism.” In other words, they charge by the pound, gram, kilogram, weather, nationality of the purchaser, color of your shirt, or day of the week, it really could be anything, depending on mood of the seller.

    In 2009, when I visited China for the first time, I walked into a shop in Shanghai–within about an hour of landing at the airport–to buy a small 250ml bottle of water and asked the price.  Storekeeper told me 2RMB. Now I know enough to know it should be no more than 1RMB, or perhaps I was simply sensing intuitively that “the game” was on. I stepped out of the shop, called my translator in (at the time, I was traveling with Chun Yu Wang, author of Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin,) and had her ask the price. She’s Chinese. Caught in the act, the owner shyly admitted to her it was 1.00RMB. We all laughed at his obvious, failed attempt to play and win the game.

    On another day, in Wuxi, I walked into a store to get a bag of cashews (7.50 RMB) and a bag of dried fruit (12.00RMB) with prices plainly written on the items. The shop cashier/owner punched in the prices in a calculator (she didn’t use the scanner like she did the day before), turned the small screen toward me indicating that my bill was 30RMB. Ahem. Now, I may not speak Mandarin, lady, but I went to school to be a civil engineer. We covered basic addition. First day, even. Heck, I can even do that one in my head. I took the calculator, silently punched in the numbers myself, turned the small screen back toward her showing her I would be paying 19.50 RMB. She waved her hand in disdain, took the 20RMB bill, gave me my .50 RMB change–all this in a wordless exchange of calculator buttons, bills and screen displays.

    You might have already read my tale of The Greedy Innkeeper In Xishuangbanna.

    Here in Hainan, I went to buy some nesberries, (that’s what we call it in Jamaica) sapodilla in America. The street vendor put my three nesberries on the electronic scale, punched some mood-based numbers, and asked for 20RMB, I gave him 10RMB, he laughed. I took my fruit and walked out. Say it with me now, “Someone will pay it….it just won’t be me!”

    Around the corner from the Lost Hostel here in Sanya, there’s a vendor selling fruit. Asking price for a small papaya? 20RMB. Now, I shop at the supermarket in the city centre, so I know that a small papaya costs about 5RMB. I laughed and walked away.

    The next day, as I returned from shopping, I decided I wanted a mango. I knew about what it should cost from my supermarket shopping experience. So, I walked towards Mr. Papaya’s stand, and fortunately, at the same time, there was a Chinese woman also buying mangos. So, sensing my own opportunity, I pretended to browse a little longer, delaying my purchase, lingering for a bit to give the lady a chance to select her mangos and pay for them. Then, I watched the screen of the electronic scale carefully, and noted that Mr. Papaya punched in 17RMB/kg for her mangos. (A day or two before, he had entered 29 for my mangos.) So, now that he had her mangos on the scale and told her the price, I approached him at the scale.

    He knew that I had seen the price per kilogram that he had punched in for her. I knew that HE knew that I saw the price per kilogram that he had punched in for her. So, perhaps to avoid embarrasment, he had no choice but to give me the mangos at the same price. I could be mistaken, but he didn’t seem happy, though. I paid 15RMB for my two mangos (about what I would pay at the supermarket). He gave me my fruits and said “goodbye,” (An unusual thing for him to say, actually. I’ve never had anyone tell me goodbye before. Guess he wanted me to say “goodbye,” too (in other words. leave!) before I discovered the Chinese prices for everything on his stand!

    Mr Papaya in China
    Would you buy a 20RMB papaya from this man? (Mr. Papaya)

    I imagine that some people would have paid Mr. Papaya the 20RMB for various reasons:(1) to avoid a scene because they dislike confrontation, (2) Feeling ill-equipped to communicate effectively if there’s a language barrier, (3) It’s still cheap given the conversion rate to their native currency, and (4) perhaps other reasons I simply can’t relate to.  However, there’s just something in me that won’t allow me to willingly pay for something when I know the price is being inflated simply out of what I perceive to be opportunism based on a stereotype of the unaware, easily-manipulated, easy-target foreigner.

    It’s a way of business I’ve seen in many places–different prices for different customers. It’s done in the tourism business on Saipan. It’s done in Laos, and everyone who travels has likely experienced it to some degree. Business is about seizing the opportunity to get the most you can get at any and every given moment. The cost is variable and based not on any pre-determined intrinsic or objective value, but the ability and willingness (unwitting or otherwise) of the consumer to pay.

    Now, maybe I’m being too forgiving, but I’ m not mad at the people who practice “opportunity marketing.”  You know, In some ways, it’s no different from a hair stylist charging John Edwards $400 for a haircut. Yes, it’s a bit stressful for me, since I already hate shopping. But, I don’t want to impose an outsider’s standard of how business should be done. But, I’d like to hear what YOU think.

    After he negotiated a good rate for my High Season Hainan Hotel room, my friend, Jian, emailed me the following:

    “hey Walt,I read the news last night. People are complaining to the media that the whole tourist industry of Hainan is taking advantage of the Spring festival (Chinese New Year). The local Chinese government official commented: “This is normal.” (that is, no big deal. Don’t fuss.) Now you see why people say the Chinese capitalism is actually more real than the western one.

    Mr Papaya in China

    It occurs to me, as I enjoy my 5RMB supermarket-bought papaya here in Hainan, that my friend Jian is right!

    See? I’m not the only one…

    Since I don’t have internet access in this new 100RMB/night hotel on Hainan, I get up every morning at 5:00AM, trek the 2 miles to the Lost Hostel and use their wi-fi. Have to do it early, since the speed of the internet connection slows down as more people wake up and get online. So, off I go today, whistling a happy tune, walking the empty morning streetlamp-lit streets of Hainan…..

    The streets of Hainan

    Yep, just me and my thoughts….an occasional car…..a few chickens….a rat….

    Wait a minute!

    What’s that? Up in the road…..a head?
    The streets of Hainan

    Yep, it’s a head allright…and a neck, a torso and a body!
    The streets of Hainan

    See? I’m not the only one who’s prepared to sleep on the beach to make a point.

    The streets of Hainan
    He looks European.

    Let’s hope he didn’t have a suitcase, backpack or laptop next to him when he went to sleep last night, ’cause this morning…….

    I’m not the only one….

    –Bonnie Raitt

    Update on Jamaica Blog Awards…my acceptance speeches

    I’ve been a little busy lately. However, here is the update you’ve been anxiously awaiting as well as the world premier of my acceptance speech! Are you ready?

    Oh, maybe I should say first, I did NOT win for Best Overseas Blog in the recent Jamaica Blog Awards. However, as I stated in my Walt’s Monday Mentals email #13: “My blog “Jamaican in China” didn’t win the Jamaica Blog Awards contest….but The Universe is Perfect. Competing in it made me improve my blog, being featured on the JBA website gained me new fans and followers, and I can still add “Jamaica Blog Awards Finalist” to my site and to my list of accomplishments.”

    Yes, the contest is over. The high-pressure campaign is done, but that doesn’t mean I have to toss out my acceptance speech! That’s right, I had written my acceptance speech from way back on January 8th or so (at that time, the voting would end 3 days later on JAN 11, and the reveal ceremony was still 8 days away). When I told a friend that I had written my speech, she asked, “Does that mean you know you won the Jamaicablog contest?”

    I replied to her, “The two realities need not be linked.”

    In other words, writing my speech in anticipation of, and incorporating it into the visualization of a desired reality has nothing to do with the reality as it may be presently perceived. However, I couldn’t tell her that at the time, because that would have been admitting that the reality was NOT yet manifested, and that would have violated one of the foundational principles of success thinking which you’ll find in every book from Think and Grow Rich to The Cat in The Hat! In other words, the way to create a desired reality is to “live from the feeling of the wish fulfilled” (Neville), “act as if the thing you desire has already manifested” (Napoleon Hill), and “…all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Jesus)

    In any event, here is my speech!

    ACCEPTANCE SPEECH VERSIONS 1 AND 2 (Written 5:41pm Canton Time, Saturday January 8, 2011)

    1. YANKEE VERSION: First, I’d like to thank the Academy, and, …oh, waitaminit, wrongspeech….Just a minute….Okay, here it is…. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.And I’d like to thank Angelo Villagomez, Joe Hill, Ruth Tighe and Joe Race on Saipan, who rooted for me and risked the ire of their own mailings lists by advocating to them repeatedly on my behalf! It’s finally over, guys! I’d like to thank Xavier Murphy and Jamaicans.com for hosting my blog so that it could be viewed more easily by audiences in China.I’d like to thank everyone who is photo’ed and featured in my blog, you’re my co-stars!This awards is really yours!….But, I’ll hang on to it for you!

    And, I’d like to thank the organizers and sponsors of the Jamaica Blog Awards,and, of course, the island and people of Jamaica, West Indies, where I wasborn, raised and who deserve this award as much as I do, but again, it’s my name on the marquee, so…..See you soon!

    2. YAAD VERSION: Lawdamercy! Me’d a like tank all a di massive weh did vote fi me, seen? Mi wah tank Angelo, an’ Joe an’ Rute an’ de nex’ Joe oooh did big me up to dem people-dem nuff time. It done! Mi wah tank Xavier fram Jamaicans.com ‘caw dem a di one weh did put up di blog ‘pon fidem site so di people dem inna China could sights it, seen? An’ mi wah tank all-a-unnoo oohfa pikcha deh pon di blag. Mi really wah give dis prize to unnoo, but mi wi jus’ kip it a my ‘ouse, seen?

    An’ lawce but not lease, nuff respek to di people dem who didput on disya award show, and to all a mi yaad bredrin and sistren. It come in like you an me a mek flim tigedda, but seein’ as ‘owis MY name mention inna di tikle fi di flim, mi wi jus’ hol’ onto it fi you…Caw….nuh soh it goh sometime in award, eee, star? nuh soh it goh sometime in award?* Said speed! Likkle more! Runnins! Laytah!

    *Paraphrasing dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson from “Di Great Insohreckshan” LP: Making History

    And, as I promised, I’d like to personally thank everyone who voted, as well as a particular thanks to the 64 people (yes, the most comments of any other blogger in the competition)  who commented on the award page. Angelo V, John G., Massoud M., Miki P., Gloria H., Howard W., Jaime V., Lee T., Stacey SW, Kimberly V., Josie K., Tim J, Joe R., Gayle S., Diamond D., Myrna C., Bima27, Mugs T., Rohan, Sasha P., Rachel I., Emma L., Lance C., Anna, Yaadinfo, David P., Nicole, Michael E., Tony C., Old Grumpy Radio Network,  Andrew, Tony C., Alvin, Mel C., Jacqueline, Analee V., Lewie T., Ronnie B., Vanessa G., Bobby L., Faisal L., Barbara, Kenneth Y., Ben S., Mike T., Alexander, Kwame, Richard P., Norman X., John J., Maxine, Ras Wayne, Chai, Steve, and that anonymous guy who responded to Maxine!

    As promised, to see how your comments have been forever preserved and immortalized CLICK HERE

    Homeless on Hainan & High Season Hysteria

    So, here’s the deal. I’m in the city of Sanya, the southern part of Hainan, an island off the south coast of the People’s Republic of China. It’s a favorite tourist destination for many people, not just Chinese. It’s January 31, 2011. Chinese New Year is 3 days away on Feb 3rd. As a result, this is what’s called “the high season.” Yep, everyone’s high. There’s hysteria in the air. Not just the hysteria and excitement that comes with ringing in a new year, but the high that comes with the possibility of making a financial killing charging exorbitant prices on everything from food to hotel space. (Would you pay 20RMB for a papaya that should cost 5RMB? More on that later.)

    Anyway, I’m currently staying at the Lost Youth Hostel. I’m currently paying 120RMB/night. It’s a nice place, friendly staff, piping hot water, and internet access. (No kitchen, but you know how I roll with the CPC!) I would stay here indefinitely, but on Feb 1st, I must leave because my room was booked in advance by others who planned to be here in Sanya with a bit more foresight than I had.

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    Lost Youth Hostel

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    My room 403, Lost Hostel

    I also have to leave because on Feb 1, the rates go up from 120RMB/night (18US) to 450RMB/night (68US). That’s right, four times! Quadrupled! But, again, there are no rooms available anyway, even if I was desperate enough to pay that price.

    So, soon to be homeless, I’ve been looking for a new place around the island. Here’s how it works. You walk around the neighborhood you’re interested in, look up at the buildings, and you’ll see typically huge orange banners with phone numbers on the balconies of specific apartments/rooms that are available for rent. They’re everywhere. You call the number, and…if you’re Chinese, you get one price. If you’re a foreigner, you get quoted another price. But, to be fair, while foreigners are, in fact, singled out to pay more (I hear the Swedes have it the worst), everyone, Chinese included, are paying “high season” prices to ring in the new year on Hainan.

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    Signs are everywhere

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China

    I’ve been looking and asking for a 30-day deal and a kitchen. Because it’s the high season, I’ve gotten quotes of 3,500RMB/month ($530US) and as high as 9,000RMB/month ($1,363US) for a single room. I was paying $250US/month for my studio on Saipan, but that’s another story.

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    It’s just a room and a hot plate, but she wants 4,000RMB for 30 days. Someone will pay it. It just won’t be me.

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    While on the bus on my way to check out the 3500RMB apartment, I met Wang, who was nice enough to call the landlord on my behalf, help me find the place, and help me gain entrance by communicating with the current tenants who were inside. Helpful Hainan!

    The place that Wang helped me find was nice. The owner wanted 3500RMB/month (roughly 120RMB/day), and after checking it out, I was going to take it, but she wasn’t willing to bargain AT ALL. Neither would she let me pay for the first 10 days (rather than 30). You see, as nice as the place was, it didn’t have internet access, and I just didn’t see the point of committing to 30 days at 3,500RMB and still have to figure out how to get online (there’s no Starbucks, and I can’t use my laptop at internet cafes)

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    Modern, shared kitchen, refrigerator, 3500RMB/month, but won’t budge on the price or terms

    The other reason I’m realizing I don’t want to commit to 30 days is this: In about 10 days, this will all be over. By about Feb 10, the festivities will be over, all the tourists will leave Hainan (except for a few stragglers like me), and prices will return to normal. Any deal I commit to now will be based on the high season prices. Why should I lock myself into paying 120RMB/day, for instance, and then continue to pay that rate once Feb 10 has passed? So, the new plan is, I’ll figure out a way to survive until Feb 10, and then I’ll approach some of the same owners anew to renegotiate based on the “not-so-high season” hysteria.

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    The cool kids at the Lost Hostel have been nice enough to make calls for me to help me find a place

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    Making calls

    So, today I went back to a part of town where I had found a hotel at which I had been quoted 80RMB/night, and found out that they now wanted 200RMB/night! I walked out. Someone will pay it.

    Lost Hostel Sanya Hainan China
    Was 80RMB/night a week ago. Now, it’s 200RMB/night

    And then, it happened. A few hundred hards further down the street, I walked into a nice establishment, and there was a 15 year old kid at the desk! Jackpot! I knew what was about to happen. I mimed for him to show me a room. He did. I asked him the price. He said 60RMB/night. I tried to contain my excitement. He was a naive, wide-eyed kid, and I was likely the first Jamaican he had ever encountered (trust me, I can tell), and I knew for a fact he was quoting me the “Chinese price.” Given the rarity of seeing a foreigner hotel-searching in this part of town, Mom and dad likely hadn’t forced Junior to read the part of the training manual entitled “How to Make a Killing Selling to Foreigners.” I accepted, and paid for 7 days. 420RMB for 7 days. He gave me the key, and I told him I’d check in tomorrow. He didn’t ask for it, but I left him my cell phone number because, even though I now had my receipt and the key, I knew what would happen the moment I left and the boss (mom or dad) found out what he had done!

    So, in anticipation of that phone call I knew I’d be getting, I stopped at another hotel and started some negotiations for a room there as my “Plan B.” After much sign language, Pidgin-Putonghua, and calls to the helpful staff at Lost Hostel, I find out why I was having such a difficult time getting the receptionist at this new hotel to give me a quote for a 7-day stay. Turns out, that she could give me a room for 150RMB for TONIGHT, BUT she didn’t know what the rate was going to be for TOMORROW. This is like the freakin’ stock market!! The boss gets up the next morning and lets her know what the rate for the day will be. So, conceivably, I could check in today at 150RMB, and then tomorrow, I could be told the rate is 200RMB (high season hysteria)

    Sure enough, about an hour later, once I return to the Lost Hostel, I get that phone call. It’s from an adult at the hotel where the 15-year old rented me the room. Turns out that the price on Feb 3rd is going to go up to 200RMB. But, I will get Feb 1 and Feb 2 at 60RMB/night! What a steal! So, tomorrow, I check out of Lost Hostel, and check in to a great 60RMB/night room on HighNan…I mean Hainan! Stay tuned, I’m sure this story will get even better.

    p.s. Now, I know what you’re thinking: I took advantage of a minor. Well, the way I see it, I took the opportunity to get the money in their hands. With a paid customer, this close to the new year, I figure they have two options. (1) They could give me back my money (possible, but unlikely, given that as I’ve learned, putting the money directly into the hands of someone you’re negotiating with is great leverage. (2) They could honor at least a part of the agreement that Junior made (which they now have done), and attempt to extort me for more money after the first 2 days is up (which they are already preparing me for).

    I’m sure they feel THEY have some leverage once I move in. However, the way I see it, is that I’VE got more leverage cause I’m not afraid to move out and sleep on the beach if I have to to make a point.

    Now, I know what ELSE you’re thinking: “Pay the &($&($ money, Walt, even at 200RMB it’s still $30US a night which is WAAAAAY less than you could get anywhere in the US or its territories!” True, but what you don’t understand is that I’m now Chinese, and I think in terms of RMB not USD, and as all cheap people are fond of saying, “It’s not about the money, it’s the principle!”

    Note from Walt: If you’d like my personal recommendations of places to stay in Sanya, check out the ad below:

    On a moped built for 5!

    From back in Xishuangbanna, when I showed you THREE on a motorbike, I promised you a photo of 4 adults on a moped. I’ve seen a few throughout my travels, but I just wasn’t quick enough on the draw to catch it with my camera. Well, this time it’s FIVE!  There’s actually a little child right between daddy, and big brother in the white jacket. You can make out his hand in the close-up. Well, since this is mostly children, it really doesn’t count. I’m determined to catch a snapshot of 4 or even 5 adults on a moped….just so you know I’m not making this stuff up!

    moped for five on Hainan

    moped for five on Hainan
    note the blue sleeve and little hand holding on to daddy

    From Russia with….you know the drill

    There are many Russians vacationing in Hainan, China. I know this because as I walk or relax on the beach, all of them have come up to me to ask me to pose for a photo. … The photomeister….Takin’ photos….makin’ friends…Papparuskies takin’ photos with the Jamaicameister….(Saturday night Live? Rob Schneider? Remember? Anyone?)

    Russian vacation on hainan china
    Jamaicans have all the fun!

    Russian vacation on hainan china
    The lady from Baikal

    Russian vacation on hainan china
    My new friends from Siberia

    Russian vacation on hainan china
    Finally, someone as skinny as I am!

    Russian vacation on hainan china
    But, of course, I’m still rebuilding from the fast…

    Russian vacation on hainan china
    Babushka has a daughter who visited Myrtle Beach, Florida, and fell in love with a Jamaican….Can you blame her?

    Russian vacation on hainan china
    What??? No new friends?? Give it a minute…

    Sanku Bay Marsh

    Learning the Language Mandarin sanku bay marsh

    As we taxied towards the terminal after the flight from Kunming to Sanya, Hainan, I listened intently to the flight attendant make the standard arrival announcement. She was half-way through the announcement before I realized she was speaking English! It wasn’t just the usual rushed, slurred delivery that many flight announcers are guilty of after giving the same announcement flight after flight, day after day for many years. This was different. I didn’t get the impression that she was giving a hackneyed speech, at all. In fact, as I’m often the only visibly non-Chinese passenger on many of these inter-city flights, I often wonder if the announcement would even be made in English if I wasn’t on the plane!

    Anyway, as I did my best to listen and decipher what the flight attendant was saying, I realized that even in the context of an airplane flight, where I have a good idea of what she SHOULD be saying, I was still having difficulty understanding her. Of course, there’s the “accent”, the intonations and the way the Chinese tongue, teeth and lips pronounce unfamiliar English consonants and vowels after a lifetime pronouncing more familiar Chinese sounds. But, I also got the sense that she might not have been speaking English at all, but merely reading the phonetic equivalent of the English words the same way I might read the phonetic equivalent (goo-roo EEE-Key) of my Chinese name, 顾瑞奇. It brings to mind a similar experience of just a few days ago.

    The other day, I walked into a local restaurant here in Hainan to determine if, at some future point in time, I might be able to dine there given my vegan proclivities.  However, even in the context of being in a restaurant speaking about food, my attempts to communicate in Mandarin that I didn’t want MSG or seasoning powder (very simple sentences, mind you) were met with blank stares by the wait staff. They, too, had no idea what I was trying to say!

    Just goes to show that there’s more to speaking the language than just mimicking the right sounds. Even in a familiar context, one’s meaning can be utterly lost or otherwise indecipherable without the right subtlety–a subtlety that comes only with time, practice and a basic foundation in the language.

    If you’re just mimicking sounds, you really don’t know where one word ends and another begins. You don’t know when to make the correct pauses in your delivery to convey the right meaning. And you’re never really sure if the phonetics is an exact replica or just a “reasonable facsimile thereof.” And, particularly in Mandarin, using the wrong tone can skew everything altogether!

    Which is not to say that context is irrelevant. If I, a non-native English speaker, were to say to you, “Sanku Bay Marsh” out of context, you might not really understand what I was trying to say. However, if, after you gave me a birthday present, I accepted it, nodded, smiled and then said, “Sanku Bay Marsh,” you might then get it, and reply, as any decent English-speaker would, “You’re very welcome!”

    Recipes from the Coffeepot Cookbook!

    Addendum March 5, 2011: Great news! There’s actually now a Real Coffeepot Cookbook, inspired by the blog post!

    Okay, there’s something you need to know about me for when we hang out together for the Jamaican in Russia adventure: I take my diet very seriously. At the same time, I’m not ruled by my gut, at least not the same way other folks are.

    So, when I say that I don’t eat meat, I don’t mean just for today. I mean yesterday, today, tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. I’m not suddenly going to forget and take the piece of pork you’re offering me because YOU forgot that I don’t eat meat. (I had a hard time explaining that on a date in Xishuangbanna.) I’ve been vegan since 1992, so I mean never. It also means I don’t eat fish, because last time I checked, fish aren’t vegetables.

    When I say I’m fasting, I just don’t mean “just for right now,” and then proceed to take the rice you’re offering because it’s after 5pm. When I fast, it means I’m not eating.

    And when I say I don’t eat MSG, or meat flavoring cubes or white sugar or table salt, that’s just what I mean.

    So, today as I slowly resume eating from my fast, I felt like I wanted something warm rather than the fruits I’ve been eating for the past 2 days.

    However, for reasons I’ve just stated, I won’t eat in a non-vegan restaurant, because I can’t be 100% sure that even though I request no MSG, no salt, no meat oil, no eggs, etc. I can’t be sure that the chef will honor those requests to my satisfaction.

    So, even though there’s no kitchen in my hotel room I will still cook today, because I have…..wait for it….wait for it……The Coffee Pot Cookbook!

    That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, The Coffee Pot Cookbook by Walt F.J. Goodridge, healthy meals you can make with just a coffee pot and a little creativity! I had the idea for this back in Kunming, but didn’t get around to blogging about it, so now it’s time.

    Today’s dish is Walt’s Nomad Veggie Soup and noodles from Chapter 7 of the cookbook.

    cooking in China, vegan in china, coffeepot cookbook

    Electric Hotel Coffee pot (provided in most hotels)
    Soup bowl (borrowed from the hotel front desk)
    Empty water bottle

    organic food in china, coffeepot cookbook, hainan
    bok choy not shown

    INGREDIENTS (purchased from local supermarket; grab some extra plastic bags while there)
    4L bottled water
    Rice noodles (optional)
    Bok Choy
    Sea salt (ordered from iherb before leaving Xishuangbanna)

    Before beginning the process below, If you’ve only got one bowl, you can pour hot water over dried rice noodles, let soften, remove from bowl, place in hotel teacup, and enjoy as a side dish or include in soup.

    Wash bok choy, tofu and scallion with your bottled water. If no basin or pot is available, cut the top off a smaller empty 1.5L water bottle (shown) you’ve been saving in your room for just this sort of thing, insert vegetables, pour in water, cover with palm of hand and shake vigorously.

    Finely dice garlic, ginger and scallion. If no cutting board is available, spread a piece of plastic (the extras you got from the produce section of the supermarket) across the wooden desk of your hotel room. Dice gently, then discard the sheet when done.

    Dice tofu into cubes

    Chop bokchoy

    Place diced ingredients, tofu and bokchoy into soup bowl.

    Boil water in coffee pot.

    Pour boiling water over ingredients in bowl. Cover with plastic sheet or plate if you have one. Let simmer for a few minutes. Stir occasionally.

    Add sea salt to taste.

    vegetable soup with tofu hainan china vegan



    (Total preparation time: about 10 minutes
    tofu: 1.50
    garlic: 1.20
    scallion: 1.70
    bokchoy: 1.00
    ginger: 0.60
    water: 10.0
    noodles: 4.70
    Total cost: 20.70RMB = 3.18US

    Next time, we’ll make brown rice in a coffee pot. This could get messy.

    Addendum March 5, 2011: Great news! There’s actually now a Real Coffeepot Cookbook, inspired by the blog post!

    Breaking my fast

    I’m breaking my fast today! Yay! I’ve been on a water-only fast for the past 6 days. I started about 2 days before leaving Xishuangbanna, and have been on it for the past 4 days in Sanya, Hainan. So, if I look skinnier than usual in any of the Hainan photos, now you know why. So, this morning, I will have a watermelon, then rambutan, papaya and other fruit throughout the day to break the fast. In my initial travels around Sanya, I’ve found a protein bar and some wheat-free cookies and I’m anxious to taste them!

    Sanya, Hainan, China, beach

    Found a good way to pass the time while I fast

    beach, sanya hainan, china

    Meanwhile, I’m currently staying at a youth hostel near the airport. In between jaunts on the beach, I’ve been on a quest for an apartment with a kitchn here in Sanya. I have found a 80RMB/night hotel a short ways away (no internet). The challenge is that Chinese new year is coming up on February 7, and all the hotels and landlords raise their prices to take advantage of the rush to celebrate new year on Hainan. I was paying 40RMB/night($6US) ( for my third floor hotel room in Xishuangbanna with internet access. Here, the cheapest hostel charges 120RMB/night ($18US). Some of the quotes I’m getting for a one-month apartment rental start at 6,000RMB/month ($909US). I REFUSE to pay $900 for an apartment! That’s a New York price!!!

    The secret, for those of you planning a similar trip, is to go out and find the smaller hotels that are NOT listed on the internet. (you can only do that once you get here, of course, or if you have a friend on the island)

    hotels in sanya, hainan

    Now THAT’S a small hotel