Visits to the Village: Riding the Waves

By Wu Ruolin, Chen Mingwen, Zhou Zhiqiang, Lara / HIMC / Updated: 22:17,03-July-2022

Editor's note:

"Visits to the Village: Ten Years On" is finally here. This documentary series takes a look at China's newly revitalized beautiful countryside with its verdant vistas and reinvigorated villages nestled in among lucid waters and the lush mountains, as one charming village after another develops their own flavor of rural revitalization through integrating culture and tourism. How do these once impoverished but now pretty villages end up making a pretty penny? What's it like to experience the charms of a Li village given a new lease of life through tourism? What stories have come out of the 'new urbanization+beautiful countryside' innovative integration project?

With the 20th National Congress of the CPC due to commence later this year, “Visits to the Village” highlights the extraordinary achievements made in Hainan's rural areas in the past ten years since the 18th National Congress. Follow Lara as she witnesses the surprising and monumental changes that have taken place in the Chinese countryside and experiences a day in the life of rural residents following the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy within the Hainan Free Trade Port.

Each episode sees Lara travel to a village and experience different roles. In Haikou's Bumao Village, she volunteers as a science teacher and takes students for an educational stroll through the Tanfengyang Provincial Wetland Park. She takes over from a guesthouse owner and experiences the charms of a Li village making new inroads with tourism in Zhongliao Village, Sanya, before surfing on down to Hainan's 'Santorini' in Tianya town, where she learns and then teaches others to paddle-board. In Haikou's Qilou historic quarter, Lara and her friend don traditional Chinese Qipao dresses and experience the quaint delights of times gone by. At the Soong Family Cultural Park, she gets an insight into 'Red' culture in her role as a tour guide.

It only took two short days for me to fall in love with Tianya Town. The exotic architecture, the excitement of trying out a new watersport, the curious tourists, and the story-filled shopkeepers were all thrilling experiences. If I was looking for words to describe this once obscure little fishing village, I'd go with: Colorful, romantic, stylish, surprising, and vibrant.

People from all walks of life have found ways to not only enjoy life but thrive here. And to be honest, that’s what I like most about this place – it’s not just another tourist attraction, where you can do touristy activities and see touristy things… it’s way more than that. You see real life as you stroll down the cobbled streets… Grandpas drinking tea on their front porches, pots and pans clanging as lunch is prepared, and little children shouting “Nai nai” as their grannies open their arms welcoming them home at the end of a school day.

Now contrary to what you heard me saying in the episode about it feeling like I arrived in Santorini, that is not actually case. Just like Hainan is not the Hawaii of China, Tianya Town is not the Santorini of Hainan. Hainan is just Hainan – a place worthy of boasting its own unique culture, environment, and people – and so is Tianya Town.  

Setting foot into Tianya Town is like walking into a brilliant splash of colors with so many teeny tiny shops and restaurants that fit in with its laid back beachy theme. Plus, the white sands lead down to blue water perfect for trying out watersports such as paddle boarding or jet boarding.

There are also a couple of spots where you can enjoy some peace and quiet. One of these is a cozy little library where you can choose a book that appeals to you during your stay or, simply cherish the tranquility of its ambience.

All sorts of scenic hotels and homestays offer a good night’s rest away from the hustle and bustle of the cities we call home. Some of these have dainty little romantic bars, coffee shops, even infinity pools that can make you lose yourself as the sun slips beyond the horizon and night falls.

As lively as the streets can be during the day, this village catches its second breath after sunset. Indulge in some fresh coconut juice under the twinkling street lights, enjoy the sound of the waves and the feel of the evening sea breeze from one of the café bars, or head down to one of the upscale bars for some live music and a cocktail.

Whether you’re someone that’s after the party life, or you’re more keen on laying low and getting in some real relaxing time, Tianya Town is the place for you.

I will truly miss the sea breeze on my face, the stunning views of the horizon, the strolls down the character filled village streets, and all the special encounters with the people I have met here.



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