Haikou is the capital and largest city of Hainan, and although it’s interesting to visit for a couple of days, I’ll have to admit it’s not as exciting as, well, any of the other places we stopped by on our trip. We spent a couple of days there doing some shopping, visiting old town markets, finding an outdoors gym in the lovely Evergreen Park where I got madly enthusiastic over some pullups and deadlifts, buying a Totoro (my other half and I turn into little kids whenever anything related to Studio Ghibli – and especially Totoro – is in the vicinity), winning a massive panda from balloon shooting (you can see how upset my sister is by my gleeful embrace of the stuffed animal) (I shan’t disclose the name we’ve given him from sheer embarrassment over our childishness) (I like to call it retainment of youth) (cue ‘foreeever young!’), and otherwise just eating lots of excellent food. Hainanese Chicken and Wenchang Chicken are local delicacies and absolute must-trys if you ever visit the region – and I’m saying this as a dedicated duck fan.
Three days before we arrived at the island, Hainan was struck by the super typhoon Rammasun, the most powerful storm to hit Hainan since 1973. Damages were huge, with 14 deaths in China and many more elsewhere as well as lots of injuries. We walked around seeing the effects of it: absolutely enormous trees uprooted everywhere – along high streets, in the parks, etc. -, and especially on our way in to Qionghai from Haikou, our view from the train window looked as if someone had taken a massive broom and brushed over what was previously healthy, green landscape and reduced it to horizontally growing trees and endless boulevards of broken trunks. Impressively, by the time we arrived, the capital looked like it had gotten back on its feet more or less, with business as usual. It’s a resilient little (big) island, that’s for sure.