Saturday, April 13, 2013

Travel destinations: Wuzhishan, Hainan Island, China

Wuzhishan is located in the hills of Hainan Island, the smallest of China’s provinces. Surrounded by lush green vegetation, Wuzhishan is one of the most prettiest and genuine of Hainan’s cities since most others are designed primarily for tourists.

Until recently, Wuzhishan was called Tongshi or Tongzha but was renamed Wuzhishan after the nearby famous mountain, Wuzhi Shan. Wuzhishan is the smallest city on the island, the capital of the Li and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in the 1980s. The government believed that it would give the Li and the Miao ethnic groups (two of the official 56 ethnicities in China) more control over themselves. However, this did not work and most local politicians became more corrupt than the Han Chinese politicians in the area!

Wuzhishan was established in the curve of the Nansheng River. You get into the city by the main road, Haiyu Lu, over a bridge and then turning west after the bus station. Be well aware that there is no Bank of China here, only the China Construction Bank but there are ATMs here so you can get money out.

The cultural sights here are relatively few here. Pay a visit to the National Museum of Hainan (Minzu Bowuguan) where you can admire and learn more about the Li and Miao ethnic groups from the island. There are also some interesting Cultural Revolution propaganda objects here but there are no English captions. This can be a little frustrating if you can’t read Chinese, but if you take a trip over to the university nearby, you can ask one of the students studying English if they would like a job as a guide. They can then improve their English and show you around Wuzhishan.

They might even take you to Jia Jia Shao Kao Yuan, a vibrant place to go to in the evenings, as well as the market to pick up some souvenirs and Jiefang Lu. If you do consider asking an English student as a guide, make sure that you know where you are going and clarify if any payment is to be made – you should at least pay for their travel costs, transport, food and drink.

There is not much here to do but relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of China’s busy cities. This lack of things to do is one of Wuzhishan’s charms. There are a number of smaller communities in the area that you can visit and explore to your heart’s delight. This is a place where you can learn more about the different ethnic groups in the area and their rich and valuable heritage.

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