Hey guys! I’m so excited to be making my FIRST ever post!! I know its long over due considering I’ve been in China now for just over two months, which I’ll update you on later. For now, welcome to Xichong Beach! In China, National day is celebrated every year on October 1st to commemorate the founding of People’s Republic of China. The rest of the week, from October 1st-7th, is refered to as the “Golden” week and, like any holiday in China, the country is swarmed with Chinese travelers.
I decided to risk the traffic on our October break and hopped on a bus with three amazing Canadian ladies and headed towards Shenzen.I live within 30 min of where this map starts. The community I live in has buses that leave right from the gates, so it’s fairly easy to get to the main cities that surround us. It took about two hours and $11 American dollars to reach Shenzhen, where we met up with some of Paulina’s friends that had taught with her in South Korea. We had some great local cuisine for dinner and then crashed at their place. The next morning we headed outside to meet up with the taxi van that Paulina’s friend’s landlord had set up for us. Traveling in China can be complicated, the language barrier is a HUGE issue. But, sometimes it has its perks. For example, in this case, the price of the van to take us the hour and a half to Xichong from Shenzhen and back was 1200Y. There were 12 of us traveling, so 100Y each. The ratio of the American dollar to the Chinese Yuan is roughly 1:6. So basically I paid around $17 for a round trip AND one that dropped us off right at the hostel and picked us up at the same location, on our time.
The beach was about a 12 minute walk from our hostel. You had to walk through a gate and pay an entrance fee of 13Y each day. So $2 for a beach pass! There are little stores and restaurants that line the beach. Everything was so COLORFUL!! Anything you might need at the beach they sold… even though not all of it was of western taste (cough cough, the bikinis!! ; ) ).
After buying some vital supplies (beach towels, floaty devices, gatorade, etc!! ; ) ) we headed down onto the beach. I LOVE the heat, but the sun here in Southern China with no shade can get to you. I’ve spent time in Georgia and the Carolinas IN AUGUST and the heat and humidity there, well it has nothing on Southern China! So the thing to do was rent a beach tent, actually two! I definitly spent most of my time in the sun, but having my camera and all the food in the shade was a must! And it gave a break to those that weren’t sun goers. For the Chinese, however, the tent has a whole different purpose. If someone in the western world has lighter or darker skin, you would ask “What is your ancestory”? People ask me all the time where I get my olive skin from. In China, its not a matter of your ancestory that determines your skin color, it is a matter of your position in society. For example, if a person has darker skin, it is a sign that they work outside, and outdoor work usally mean less money. If a person has lighter skin, it is a sign that they are indoors more often, suggesting a more prestigous job. These habits of thought still exsist in China today. So while our tent was for relief from the sun or just to store our belongings, the other tents that were rented had a completely different purpose. Its the same reason you will rarely ever see a Chinese woman in a bikini, or swimsuit at all!
After swimming for a couple hours we headed up to a little cafe on the beach called “The Secret Spot”. Its owned by an American surfer and his chinese wife. The best part of running into something American owned… the food!! Most of us all ordered our own pizza, which was paradise in itself! The cafe at lunch time was full of other foreigners, most of them sufers, although from what countries I’m not sure. While sitting in this litlle cafe suround by pizza and surf boards, with an amazing view to top it off, four things crossed my mind:
Fisrt: Holy crap, I just swam in the Southern China Sea!!
Second: Learning to surf is a very real, very cheap possibility right now.
3. Seriously, this pizza!!
4. How did this become my life….
After lunch Krystin, Paulina, and I headed for a stroll on the beach. I had not had many opportunities to use my new camera yet, so I was excited to put the camera to test, beach style! Right before we took off, a friend that we had made while eating lunch decided to join us… and he was very excited! I had my camera in hand, and he had a chewed up water bottle. Yup, our new friend was Bobby the dog! His owner was the American surfer that ran the cafe, and he took a huge liking for our little group!
Along the way we met another friend!! This one was much smaller, and beyond adorable! After adoring the puppy, we decided to do a few water snap shots, which of course Bobby had to join in.
I’ve never seen an animal be so loyal to strangers! He walked with us all the way down and back on our stroll, which made for some great camera shots! Theres something about having a dog on the beach that makes it that much better. It definitly is on the bucket list, riighhtt under moving to North Carolina someday; )
I did not expect the beach to be so beautiful and the water so clean. In fact, I didn’t even worry that I had forgotten my favorite swimsuit because I had the impression that there would be no need for it in China! I thought all the beaches would be dirty and polluted, when actually, the only trash I found while swimming was two speedos… which makes for an interesting guessing game!!
One of the things I want to be able to catch on film while living in China is the people. I don’t want to just see photos of different cultures in the National Geographic. I want to have my own collection, and I want to be there in the moment that photo is being taken so that I become a part of it. Hopefully I’ll have a great collection by the end of this year! But heres a few I snapped : )
Later that night we headed to a restaurant on the far end of the beach that was well known by the foreigners for its American style BBQ. Unfortunately, when we got there, we found out the previous owner had sold the business.. and the new owners no longer served food. Luckily, they let us order from a nearby Chinese restaurant, buuutt ordering late at night and with no pictures on the menu is always a gamble. Needless to say, dinner wasn’t that great. However, there was a plus side! While walking back to the other side of the beach Krystin spotted someone selling Chinese lanterns. We had seen other people lighting them on the way to the restaurant, and decided to do one ourselves!
Now I’ve done one of these in America before, but really, doesn’t that even compare to doing one on the beach, on the Southern China sea, at night, and with great friends!?!? No, not even close.
Chinese laterns can mean many different things. Some people say its for good luck, others a symbol of letting go and starting new, and even others a becon of light to find your way home. I’d say considering I’m half way across the world from my home, I’ll take the good luck and the becon of light!
And its off!!!
Thankfully my friend Fetsum was there to take over the camera for me and catch some awesome shots!!!
The next morning I got up early to catch the sunrise. Then, I headed back to the hostel for an extra hour of sleep. When the group was all awake we packed up everything and dropped off our bags down stairs so we could head to the beach for a couple of hours before the van came back to pick us up.
We went back to The Secret Spot since we had found out the previous day that they also served breakfast. I almost jumped out of my chair when I saw the menu for the morning. They were serving FRENCH TOAST!! Trust me, there are things you just learn to except aren’t on the yearly menu anymore. So seeing that they were serving french toast, coffee, eggs, bacon, potatoes… it was the best breakfast I had had in almost two months AND a taste of home : )
After the 1 1/2 van ride back to Shenzhen, 2 hour train ride, 40 minute bus ride, and countless moments of searching for the right directions inbetween AND dealing with the crazy amount of people trying to get home, we finally made it back to Country Garden late that night safe… and with one more thing checked off my list: )
P.S. Always Dream Big