China’s jewel onlyaflight away

The Press - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

China South­ern Air­lines is open­ing doors to China be­hind which trav­ellers might not oth­er­wise have seen.

With the chill of win­ter hov­er­ing omi­nously around the cor­ner, many will be look­ing long­ingly at warmer climes for hol­i­days that will fore­shorten the colder months.

The chal­lenge is to find a lo­ca­tion that pro­vides new ex­pe­ri­ences, un­fa­mil­iar sights and cul­tural dif­fer­ences that en­lighten.

One of the doors opened by China South­ern Air­lines leads to Hainan Is­land, off the coast of China, and its beau­ti­ful south­ern­most city of Sanya.

The city is renowned for its trop­i­cal cli­mate and, with six glo­ri­ous bays, it boasts the finest white-sand beaches in Asia.

With more than 300 sunny days a year and a cli­mate that be­stows warm win­ters and not-so­hot sum­mers, Sanya pro­duces ex­otic flow­ers that bloom all year round.

The an­nual mean tem­per­a­ture is 25.8deg C and wa­ter tem­per­a­tures re­main above 20deg C year-round.

Three-fifths of the Sanya is forest-cov­ered and more than 40 per­cent of the ur­ban area is oc­cu­pied by pub­lic green space.

Sanya’s air qual­ity ranks first among all cities in China. A United Na­tions air qual­ity sur­vey over 148 cities in 45 coun­tries from 1998 to 2003 ranked Sanya first in Asia and sec­ond in the world. Its ho­tels, re­sort and spa cen­tres, golf cour­ses, div­ing places and scenic spots are world­class.

Those whose travel agenda is in­flu­enced by the rich­ness of a des­ti­na­tion’s his­tory will find much to savour dur­ing a visit to Sanya whose an­cient name is Yazhou (which means ‘‘cliff state’’).

It dates her birth to the Qin dy­nasty (221BC to 206BC) and, due to its re­mote­ness from the po­lit­i­cal cen­tres dur­ing the im­pe­rial eras on Main­land China, Sanya was some­times called Tianya Hai­jiano mean­ing ‘‘the end of the sky and ocean’’ or ‘‘the end of the earth.’’ As a re­sult, the city served as a place of ex­ile for of­fi­cials who found them­selves out of favour with the coun­try’s rulers.

Christchurch is 9410km from Sanya with an av­er­age fly­ing time of 15 hours 30 min­utes.

China South­ern Air­lines flies di­rect from Christchurch to Guangzhou three times weekly, with easy con­nec­tions to Sanya as well as Haikou, on Hainan Is­land’s north­ern coast.

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