Yalong Bay - Part 1
Some 20km east of Sanya, lies the city's jewel in the crown and an area over which much more care is being taken than at Dadonghai or its smaller neighbour Xiaodadonghai. The upside is that the environment is being managed more effectively, as the most fickle of Chinese fauna is hotelchain internationalensis, which will migrate at the first sign of pollution or environmental damage. A bit rich really, but that's life, eh?
The legend of Yalong Bay includes the predictable local dragon, who lived in the sea here. He has a passion for a local girl Ji Li, who was, regrettably, already engaged to a local boy. Ji Li explained this to the dragon when he proclaimed his love for her. "Come and have dragon babies, cutie" he said.
However, Ji Li's fiance (Brian, I think his name was) saw Ji Li chatting to the dragon, became furiously jealous (of a dragon, dude?) and called off the engagement. Ji Li, upset, committed suicide by jumping into the sea. Thunder rang out, rain poured, and the mountains slid backwards to reveal a beautiful crescent sandy beach. Ji Li's body turned into the white sand, her tears made the sea even more pool, and her long black hair turned into immaculate landscaping and golf fairways. I made the last bit up, but that's the story of Yalong Bay.
Today, the bay is classified as an AAAA state tourist attraction, but don't let the government's attempts to classify everything put you off. This really is a gorgeous beach, and compared to many in Asia, largely empty. It's not the "Number One Bay Under Heaven" as proclaimed by the tourist froth - I can think of a hundred nicer beaches, some even in China, but it is a great one. The presence of oil rigs on the horizon, a vast concrete causeway at the eastern end and huge hotel buildings prevent it from even approaching "Heaven" status, but it is definitely worth a visit, especially as a retreat from colder climates.