Hainan Island,on the edge of the earth

(beijing today)
Updated: 2006-11-06 10:13

It is interesting to note that while the island of Hainan in southwest China is the country's number two holiday ravel destination (in between Jiuzhaigou National Park in Sichuan and Yunnan's Lijiang), most foreign tourists and expats living in the People's Republic have never even heard of Hainan Dao, let alone been there I used to be one of the guilty parties. Despite residing in China for an extended period of time, it was not until I began my epic travels across the country that I was introduced to what is in fact its smallest yet most exotic province.

                          Hainan Island,on the edge of the earth

Hainan's most popular season is, of course, Spring Festival, when legions of mainlanders shuddering from sub-zero winter temperatures spend Chinese New Year on the invitingly temperate beaches of the tropica island.

Conversely, sweltering summers turn Hainan into a veritable Hades (reclusive sun worshipers take note: you will literally have the beach to yourselves). It is not surprising, then, that Hang Dynasty exiles were once banished to 'The Edge of the Earth' as fatal punishmentHainan island has made significant progress over the centuries, from remote settlement to popular tourist attraction by way of repeatedly falling in and out of control of neighboring provinces until at last being granted provincial status in 1988 (disputably along with some 200 surrounding South China Sea islands) and declared a Special Economic Zone to spur investment.

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