oh I do like to be beside the seaside….

Beaches in China are…interesting. The perfect place for a spot of old-fashioned people watching. I have no idea where they get their beach fashion inspiration from. It is hilarious. I noticed it a couple of years ago on Hainan island. Everyone was wearing matching Hawaiian shorts and t’shirts. Then, again on Xiachuan island, the same again. If you’re not wearing matching sets, you ain’t cool.
 Chinese beaches have one area designated for swimmers. And it is madness. I’ve never seen so many people squeezing into one tiny area, when there is a whole ocean surrounding them! It’s because the majority of them can’t swim. It’s not part of the education programme here and I guess it’s just not forced upon them as much as it is to people in the West. I remember clinging to the edge of the dingy little pool that my Mum made me take swimming lessons in every week. Horrid. But hey, I can swim, which means I don’t have to stay in that little ocean zoo and cart a rubber ring around the beach with me.
Back to the fashion side of things. I’ve been wearing the same bikini for a couple years now, because well, let’s just say the choice in China is ‘limited.’ Unless you want to wear a full-on knee length skirt and a vest, then you’re not going to want to purchase swimwear in China town. Never before have I felt so naked in swimwear. I thought I could just blend in and enjoy the sun, but clearly being the pasty white girl in a real bikini wasn’t going to help disguise the fact that I was the only foreign girl on the beach. There was no hiding that. Oh Scottish skin. So yes people stared alot and seemed bewildered to see someone actually wearing so little on the beach. Wonder how they’d react to someone going topless? HA!
One individual who stood out to me in particular was a young girl wearing the typical Chinese bikini, but not only that, she was also sporting a red suit jacket. Not a special jacket for swimming. Oh no. Just your average red suit jacket you’d wear to a wedding or to the office. I laughed and was waiting for her to take it off. Nope. She just grabbed her big blue rubber ring, and jumped into the sea, suit jacket and all. And she stayed there for a good hour. Just floating about in her red suit jacket. Inside her rubber ring. It was so bizarre. Surely she was burning up inside there. On the other hand, maybe she thought I was the crazy one wearing a tiny bikini.
Everyone else on the beach was wearing jeans. We even saw a guy in a suit, with his trousers rolled up for good measure. And the ladies were adorned in pearls and 1940s style straw hats. It looked like they were going to a wedding. Oh, on the topic of weddings, this beach seemed to be the dream location for wedding photos. I was waiting in the line for the toilet and was astounded to see girls wearing ball gowns and fake eyelashes and all sorts. Clearly I missed the memo about beach wear in China. Thank goodness when I realised they’re here for their wedding photos. My little blue sun dress looked like rags compared to those glamaramas.
It’d be too normal for people to be playing frisbee or volleyball or just sunbathing right? The most popular activities on this Chinese beach were to bury your friends in the sand, complete with jeans, shoes etc. Can you spell uncomfortable?! And of course to giggle at the three crazy foreigners in beach wear. (That’d be us then).
Despite the stares and amusement at the fashion choices of the day, and dodging the gazillion umbrellas, (no it was not raining, white skin here is the dream, lucky me- that might be why I got such hideous stares for actually sunbathing and getting a little colour) I had a jolly good time. The beach was pretty nice, contrary to what I’d previously heard. Hey if there’s sea and sand and sun, and a sneaky little cloud in the sky that’s going to shade me in times of great need, I’m happy. That’s what happens when you live in a big ol’ dusty grey city. Any beach will do. This beach even had a special way of keeping track of how many people were on the beach. At one time I saw there was over 8000! Now that’s alot of people for one small beach. Keep in mind most of them were congregated in the zoo area. When we took a walk around the cliff edges, we looked back and all we could see were thousands of tiny people. Looked like a giant music festival, but no, just another day on the beach in China.
We left the beach feeling refreshed, if a little burnt. OK I got very burnt. The smell of sun-lotion emanating all around, sand stuck in my air, salt everytime I licked my lips, and the crunch of sand in my mouth. Lovely. I never realised how close I live to the beach now. I shall definitely be going there more often. Might even buy myself a 1940s style hat especially for swimming. Seems to be all the rage. Of course, I mustn’t forget the red suit jacket. That’s the crucial item right? 😉

Red suit jacket girl

buried alive

those gazillion red specks are people.

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