Seeking Sunshine (and Reassurance) in Sanya

January 23, 2017
One good way to figure out places to go to in China is to ask my co-workers about some of their past trips. A few people mentioned going to Sanya, recommending it as a cheap getaway from Shanghai. Sanya has been dubbed "the Hawaii of China," and is quite popular among Chinese and Russian tourists. After my spinal fusion surgery, I wanted to ease back into traveling, so I knew going to Sanya was a good pick. Warmer weather is good for the hardware in my back--cold places can make it really painful.  (Thank goodness I went to Harbin last year. With the freezing temps, there's no way I could've handled that this year!)  I also figured that if I had issues with my back that we'd be at a resort, so I could just lie by the pool and read while the others went to the beach. Thankfully it did not come to that, and I could keep up pretty well. Definitely not like a normal person, but not too slow.

I went with my friends Rachael, Steven, and Kelcey. When I went to go meet Kelcey, I was walking down the stairs of my apartment and started to have a panic attack. Can you blame me? The last time I tried to travel in China, I ended up being flown back on a stretcher and needing major back surgery. I thought of walking back upstairs and not even going. I didn't know if I'd be able to handle it, and my back was doing better, so what if I couldn't make it through the long flight? What if sitting for so long messed something up? What if I injured myself on the trip? Luckily, I talked myself out of canceling my trip, and then Kelcey reassured me saying that I was with good people who would all be willing to help me.

The flight to Sanya was nerve-wracking at first, especially because I am not a good flier anyway. It's about a three and a half hour flight from Shanghai to Sanya, and I didn't know if I could bear sitting for that long. Everything ended up being okay. My friends helped me with my carry on, it was a pretty smooth flight, and I just made sure to get up as much as I could. Once I arrived in Sanya, I just felt a million times better. I accomplished something in that I got over part of my fear! I was able to go to a new place without a major incident!

We went directly to the Cactus Resort which was located right by Yalong Bay. Yalong Bay is considered to be one of Hainan Island's nicest beaches, and there was a complimentary shuttle provided by our resort that could take us directly there.

All of us were pretty much on the same page with staying at the Cactus Resort. The rooms were a bit run down, but we didn't pay that much, so we kind of got what we paid for. It wasn't a horrible place by any means, but all of us would have rather paid more and gotten a better place. If you do go to Sanya, I recommend staying at one of the two Pullmans on the island. Another group of our co-workers also happened to have booked a trip to Sanya at the same time as us, and they were quite pleased with the Pullman Sanya Oceanview. We left for a day trip one day to visit them, and had to agree that we wished we would've stayed there, too.

The weather was a bit rainy on our first day, but it cleared up and we had some really nice weather for the rest of our trip. It warmed up and stayed in the low 80's for our last few days, so we got two sunny beach days in. The beach was really clean, and the water was surprisingly warm. The first day, I struggled getting into the water, but I tried to go in by myself and probably shouldn't have done that. The waves were knocking me around and at one point I was flopping around by the sand struggling to get up and some Chinese tourists were taking pictures of me, so that was lovely. The next day, Steven offered to go in with me, and it was totally fine. The water wasn't as choppy, and I think just having Steven standing there gave me the moral support I needed to calm down and go into the water independently.

It was just nice to be out of Shanghai and to get a break from life in a big city. The semi-tropical environment really didn't hurt, either. There were plenty of flowers and palm trees and other sorts of greenery--it was just a lush place in general. We took in the blue skies and marveled at how the air was breathable, a real luxury for us considering that there's an airpocalypse in Shanghai fairly often every winter.

We had a relaxing trip, enjoyed each other's company, went out to eat at different restaurants on the island, and had some down time to watch movies, too. We had a mini-photo shoot by the I Love Sanya sign, which was pretty fun. Kelcey called it "very edgy," but I don't know about that, ha ha.

On Christmas Eve, we joined the other girls at their hotel for a buffet dinner. It was 500 RMB for all you could eat/drink (including booze), and entertainment was provided. There was a stage and we got to watch various singers and dancers perform. A raffle (or as they say here "a lucky draw") was going on as well, but none of us were lucky enough to win anything.

The main reason why I guess I'm even writing about this trip is because it was pivotal for me. It gave me more confidence because I saw that I COULD travel again, even though now it's not the same as before. My friends all thought I did really well, but they agreed that I should probably choose my future destinations carefully and told me I should probably try to keep traveling with friends. They all carried my bags at one point and also helped me put my sandals on since I'm not supposed to bend.

Sanya ended up being a very important trip in my life. After struggling with being able to walk for so long, I really thought I would maybe have to give up traveling altogether, which was terrifying for me, as it has always been a huge part of who I am. This trip made me see that I AM capable, so onwards and upwards!

Have you ever taken a trip that changed the way you think about yourself?

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