In the farthest corner of China's south, in Hainan Province, a tropical island. China's only tropical island. A reservoir of sultry sun and sweltering rain: Sanya. That is where I have spent the last five days.

I think the floor under me is still shifting with the sand of the sea.

I flew in there on Saturday and flew out last night, reaching at the unearthly hour of two in the morning. Ah! To be back in airports again! What is it about airports that seem to draw me time and time again? The rush of travel...all those places in electronic mode. The whroom of the engines. The take-offs and the landings. Life in constant motion. Perhaps, that's what I love about airports. It's always alive. Flying with life.

And then to soak in the sea again after almost a year. It was beautiful. It was truly a holiday - no places to "sightsee" but just the rocks by the sea and the sun for company. Every day. And every evening.

And smile, for the first time I stayed in a backpackers hostel. Prices were so jacked up due to the May Day holiday that I had to forget my usual trepidation of entering a backpacker's den (don't ask me why... one of those ridiculous fears that have their root in nothing). But Jane's Backpackers Hostel has to be among the best places I have ever stayed in. "Just a 3-minute walk to the beach," Jane says, pointing out the road from the reception window. 3 minutes? Erm, sure. It turned out to be a 40-minute walk. Not because it was far. But because as usual, the obvious road isn't always the easiest to take. I turn round, roam through a supermarket and a summer mall, trudge through a sun heating its way on to a delicious day before finding Dadonghai beach.

For me, the sea is an invitation to surrender. To view life from its shores. To frolic in the waters of the sea I love. Pieces of the sea that I carry back home with me. In faraway Sanya, I cling to the beach. And I think how the sea reflecting the sands of all that time I have carried through - to view its waves that have ceaselessly lapped through me for all these 27 years - to surrender those moments and watch as the sea gently carries my life to a horizon I can visualize but never reach.

I still carry sands of the sea in my mind. All these images float through me. The visit to Yalong Bay. Mighty resorts. Pristine sandy beach. Two hours in a deck chair owned by Holiday Inn. A ride back in a double-decker bus with open windows. The view of southern China so lush and green was quite breathtaking. Coconut palms swaying in the air. Thick clouds of dark rain hiding behind the hills. Water buffaloes roaming in the fields. Farmers with cone-shaped hats sewing green patches into a bald earth.

Rain in the evening. Thick, heavy rain. A tropical storm. And me, sitting on the balcony of the hotel wondering how the sea and the sky, no matter how much they rage, never hurt as much as the follies of man...


words: Smitha Murthy, India
photo: Ludowika Swoboda, Austria, Maldives photos


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