State Mandated Beach Day

I’m not sure if it’s just our perpetually “under construction neighbourhood, or Haikou at large, but I’ve suffered more sudden power outages living here for 6 months than I did in 5 years in Suzhou.

As such, yesterday when the electricity went out shortly after we woke up, it wasn’t a huge surprise. I took the dog out, figuring it would be back on before I returned and I’d jump into the day’s task list. Getting back into the community a half hour later, I could hear a massive generator running from a maintenance building I had always assumed was empty.

A quick call (after a whole lot of busy signals) to the management office revealed that the power would be off for the next 12 hours, we should fill up what we can with water as the generator maintaining water pressure is only going to be running for a few hours — and didn’t we see the notice?

We had not.

Maggie, conveniently, had an appointment at the local CCDC to get Casey vaccinated against Chicken Pox, and so I was left to my thoughts of a post-apocalyptic world without power.

By about 10:30am I had finished the last audio book I had on my iPod, played nearly every song I could remember on guitar, and blown through the first few chapters of my Chinese study books (which had several years of dust layered on them) … and only 9 hours to go. The temperature was beginning to rise outside. No AC meant no A/C. I started to twitch.

The moment Maggie walked through the door with our now Chicken Pox-proof child, I desperately declared, “We’re going to the beach!”

If we were responsible people we’d keep a bag packed in case of an emergency. Instead, we always have a bag packed ready to go to the local pool. Adding a few beach-themed extras (sand toys, some sarongs to cover the loungers, etc.) we were off. Despite the beach being only a short bus trip away, this was the first time in a few months that we had bothered to go. The irony of the summer heat keeping me indoors and away from the sand and surf at my doorstep is not lost on me.

Sure enough, while walking out of the community to catch the bus, we noticed a big hand-written page indicating that the power would be off all day as the local government was performing some maintenance. This beach day is brought you by the letters C, P and C.

The beach looked much as it did the last time we visited, but the water was much warmer. In my prior post about Haikou’s Holiday Beach, I compared the water temperature to being about the same that of the Great Lakes in the summer — fine once in, but ball-tuckingly chilly at first. Now, after a summer of sun had warmed it up, the water was much more comparable to the tropical waters of SE Asia I would expect here on Hainan.

The warmer temps didn’t do much to improve Casey’s apprehension of the waves however, and he was much more content splashing along the shore and playing in the sand rather than being in the rise and fall of the deeper water.

One of the things I often wonder, when sitting in the beach lounger with not much else to do but wonder, is where the people enjoying Holiday Beach are from. Are they residents like Maggie and myself, or locals, or holidaymakers that couldn’t afford the puffed up prices further down the coast in Sanya?

At a cost of 30 RMB (about $5), the loungers tend to be more vacant than full, and so I’ve only ever had opportunity to speak with one group of beach goers. They were an older couple from Xinjiang visiting their son who was attending the local university. That kid got it right choosing a university that was both very far away from his family and on a tropical island. Unlike Sanya’s virtually all-tourist makeup, I imagine that Haikou’s beaches are a bit more diverse in who ends up on them.

A few beers, some chuar, and a whole lot of sand later; we caught a taxi home a bit pinker than when we arrived. Yesterday made me realize that I need to try harder to routinely disconnect from my computer and the Internet. It’s a shame that I let the close proximity of the beach be an excuse for shelving going to it more often. The pool might be closer and less “public”, but there’s nothing quite like killing a Friday afternoon with a cold beer in hand and sand between the toes.

I’ll be keeping my eye on the community board for notice of my next forced beach day. I’m looking forward to it.

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