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A holiday destination where summer never ends(2)

2014-04-23 13:30 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Wang YuXia

Buddhism treat

China's southernmost mountain, Nanshan Mountain, is considered a place of good luck and pilgrims make their way to Nanshan Temple. It is named after a popular Buddhist expression, "Good fortune is as grand as the East Sea; longevity is as high as Nanshan Mountain."

A Chinese monk named Jianzhen tried to spread Buddhism in Japan during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), but five times his ship failed to reach it. Then the vessel was blown off course and he ended up at Nanshan Mountain, where he stayed for half a year. Finally, he made it to Japan.

At 108 meters high, Nanshan's Guanyin Statue is the world's tallest statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy or Bodhisattva of Compassion. It's 15 meters higher than the Statue of Liberty. The statue has three aspects, or sides. One side features Guanyin cradling a sutra or scroll in the left hand, while the right hand makes the Vitarka Mudra gesture, symbolizing wisdom.

In the second aspect, the statue's palms are crossed, holding a string of prayer beads, signifying mercy. The third aspect holds a lotus in the right hand, meaning peace. The statue was completed in April 2005 after six years of construction.

Another great place for families with children is Nanwan Monkey Island, home to 1,500 macaques, a protected species.

"The monkeys are sexually active and one even bit my daughter but they are really funny and we like them," said Aksanna, a Russian with two daughters.

Aksanna, her husband, mother and girls vacationed at Sanya Bay. Apart from beach fun, they were interested in traditional Chinese medicine therapy to treat rheumatism.

For families like Aksanna's from Russia, Sanya is paradise: lots of sunshine, short travel time, affordable prices, convenient shopping and dining.

During their stay, they also watched a local song and dance performance, visited a snake park and watched venom being extracted for medicine.

Fun for kids

At the Mandarin Oriental, Sanya, children can enjoy the tremendously popular camp outdoors in the sun. The professionally supervised activities include themed days of games, educational pastimes, creative art and crafts for children aged 4-12 years old.

The many activities include swimming in landscaped pools, snorkeling amid coral, kayaking, and raft building. There are also children's archery, beach "Olympic" games, cooking classes and tai chi for children.

Each day the camp is packed with fun learning games that emphasize knowledge about the natural environment.

Renting a helicopter for an aerial view of sea and land or a yacht will surely impress families and boyfriend/girlfriend. Sanya has the mainlands' best marinas with the best facilities.

For golf lovers, there are plenty of choices, including Yalong Bay Golf Club, an international seaside championship course. Sun Valley Golf Club also has a professional, 18-hole golf course as well as views of mountains, ocean and desert. Other courses include Sanya Dragon Valley Golf Club, Luhuitou Golf Club, Sanya Hongtang Bay Golf Club and Hainan Sanya Sunrise International Golf Club.

Of course, this being China. Food is important. Sanya delights with a variety of local delicacies.

One choice is the reasonably priced First Market downtown for fresh-off-the-boat seafood, including lobster, crabs, clams, small abalone, prawns, conger eels and sea urchins. It also has fruit and produce. After selecting your seafood and produce, nearby restaurants will cook them precisely to your order, within minutes.

Donghai Longgong, or East China Sea Dragon Palace, is another place to appreciate waves and great food. Don't forget to ask locals which spots offer the best and most authentic food. They can often be had cheaply on small streets.

And don't forget the traditional festivals that provide insight into culture. Dragon-head-raising Day falls on the second day of the second lunar month, usually sometime in March. It marks the day the dragon in charge of rain awakens. This mythical creature controls water and rainfall in Chinese legends. Therefore people pray for prosperity, peace and good harvests.

Another festival is Sanyuesan, or the Double Third Festival celebrated by the Li and Miao ethnic peoples, involving singing and dance, food and wine, games and other activities.

The Dragon Boat Festival falls on June 2 this year. Thousands of people come to cheer the dragon boats races along the Sanya River.

The Tianya Haijiao International Wedding Festival at year's end is a gala that combines wedding parties, travel and honeymoon holidays. Hundreds of couples will say their "I dos" in a mass wedding during the festival.

Sanya also hosts the China Hainan Island Joy Festival and the Nanshan Longevity Cultural Festival, as well as global and regional sports, arts and tourism galas.

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