Yacheng Things to Do
Just to the east of the river lies an old, forgotten part of Yacheng. Considering that Yacheng itself has long been forgotten as life and commerce has moved to Sanya, this is saying something.
In a very traditional South East Asian setting, this south-eastern suburb of Yacheng is neither part of the city, not part of the countryside, merging effectively between the two.
Houses built around 100 years ago, some of them very substantial, stand among the tall coconut palms and mango trees. In the spaces, the Hlai (Li) villagers grow market vegetables and bananas and sell them by the road side.
There is a constant procession of people up and down the road, and along the quiet sandy paths among the houses and the trees.
This is a rather idyllic part of Hainan, where the 21st Century can be put on hold, and there is a return to calmer, less turbulent days among the Indo-Chinese architecture, small children playing among the trees and old folk wandering around their patch.
More photographs are in a Travelogue section.
I can tel you nothing about the Confcian Temple in Yacheng, which was presumably, in earlier times the city temple of Yazhou, when it was a bigger, grander place.
In many places in China, I have felt that Confucian temples lack the spirituality and 'life' of Buddhist temples, and that Confucian temples feel more like museums than places of worship.
Here in Yacheng, the Confucian Temple felt more like a proper temple probably because it was out of use and being restored. There were no stands and vendors, not tea-houses or postcards and no entry fee. Just some earnest young men planing a door, scaffolding set up in the rooms and painters at work up in the eaves.
The old city gate is gently decaying alongside the market-place in Yacheng. The city wall alongside it, running in each direction looks to be mainly recent - a lamentable atempt to recreate the wall - more Disney castle than Chinese town wall.
The archway is no longer used except by pedestrians, and streets east and west have replaced the lane that used to lead through into the old town.
Fifty metres behind the gate is a temple, currently being restored (but almost finished).
Yacheng Local Customs
Chewing betel is popular all over South Eastand South Asia, and nobody seems to know how or why it started. The splashes of crimson phlegm on sidewalks and pretty much everywhere else is a sign that betel chewing is a local pleasure.
The areca palm nut is wrapped inside a leaf from the betel pepper vine, which is smeared with lime. The leaf is tied or stuck down and sold from piles by the roadside or from big jars - usually for 1 miao per nut.
The nut and leaf is chewed to a pulp and the resulting mush is spat out.
Many men follow this up by chewing tobacco for a while to enhance the effect.