We were staying somewhere on Zhujiajian island and after our flying fiasco, we were eager to get started with our adventure in Zhoushan. So, we proceeded to locate our living quarters where we would be staying for the next week.
As per usual, we took a wrong turn along the way and had to rely on the goodheartedness of the locals to get us back on track. Fortunately, we came across a woman and her friend who offered us lifts on their scooters. With my backpack on and my suitcase on my shoulder, we sped off. The sight instantly reminded me of The Hotwings Craving advertisement from Chicken Licken a few years back. I wasn’t the only one who thought it to be rather unusual. It turns out that a foreigner with a huge suitcase on his shoulder, on the back of a struggling scooter, is quite the attraction. Thankfully, we made it to the Airbnb all in one piece and without incident.
The manager, a petite middle-aged woman, at the small bed and breakfast was probably the most wonderful hostess we had the pleasure of meeting in China. Her face was engraved with a permanent smile and although I couldn’t understand a single word she was saying, her words sounded soft and warm. She had the perfect personality for her profession. Her caring attitude and mannerisms, which were so intense that they almost made you feel guilty, reminded me of many a “Tannie” in South Africa. Pampering her guests to the extent that it could be considered a crime. She made settling in an effortless experience and in no time we were ready to explore.
At this point, we were all but starving. Not just in the literal sense of the word, but also to get to the beach. Our hostess arranged a free lift and we set out to the nearest beach town, hoping to satisfy our hunger.
Upon arriving in Nansha, one of the bigger towns on Zhujiajian island, we were plunged into a place of uniformity. There was no shortage of eateries, but they were all practically the same. In many cases, the differences were so insignificant that you could take a menu from one, stroll across the street and order at another. As we explored the island further, in the following days, we observed this to be an island-wide phenomenon.
We wandered through the small town, hoping to find something different, something that didn’t conform to the monolith. The mundaneness was soon interrupted. However, not quite in the way we had hoped. A ghastly howl of despair reached our ears. My mind raced to the worst possible conclusion and my eyes were momentarily drawn to the source of the dreadful sound. My involuntary gaze, into the alley behind the restaurant, was just in time to witness the killing of the second dog. Next to a dead dog, no doubt the source of the original howl, were two men. One was holding down the second dog, while the other was hitting it over the head with a hammer.
It’s not that I’m squeamish or haven’t seen animals being slaughtered before, but the manner in which it was done was absolutely horrifying. The appalling scene had twisted our intestines and made our hunger subside. We continued wandering around the little town until our disgust was finally overwhelmed by hunger. We stumbled into the first place we found that looked to serve anything remotely western and had our lunch.
Zhujiajian island highlighted our frustrations with Chinese beaches. The beaches are all fenced off and in order to gain entry, you have to pay a king’s ransom. It was already well past four in the afternoon and paying to stick our feet in the sand for the last hour of daylight was a ludicrous thought. We were quite determined, however, and we marched further along the coast, continuing our search.
We finally chanced upon a beach that permitted free entry after 5 pm. It wasn’t much, but we were ecstatic, nonetheless. After watching the stars come out, we decided to call it a day.
The first day of our adventure was an extraordinary one and it set the tone for the rest of the week.
Places We Visited in Zhoushan
Over the course of the following week, we walked our legs down to stumps to see as much as possible. From one of the sacred Buddist mountains to a fishing village that looks like a cut out from South Africa’s West Coast, Zhoushan offered much more than we had initially expected.