Mid August. Yet another typhoon is bearing down and this time it looks like a direct hit on Shenzhen’s coast. In accordance with the prescribed rules, all haze suddenly disappears from the air and is replaced by beautiful blue skies presiding over hot days. We travel along the winding roads of the Dapeng Peninsula in the local bus, looking longingly at the freeway only metres away, which for reasons known only to the Shenzhen Bus Company, appears to be forbidden territory to our bus.

The bus is thronged with summer mid-week tourists. A five-year-old boy constantly badgers his parents with, Are we there yet? We can only sympathise. Finally Dameisha arrives. Daole, we’re here, exclaims the boy with a look of unalloyed joy and gets off the bus. But we still have half the journey to go.

So we race around mountain bends, through wooded hills, past spectacularly sited luxury apartments. At every turn, brilliant blue seas flash before our eyes. And on cue, just before the Nan’ao terminus, we alight at the Nan’ao Hotel.

Surprisingly efficient service, Hawaiian shirt-clad boys and girls who actually want to get you into their hotel. And then we walk around a corner.

Through an open doorway, light streams in. A sea breeze blows. Suddenly, we’re transported. A strip of golden sand beckons. On the shore, small even waves break. And, in the distance, the mountains of Hong Kong’s New Territories linger.

The second storey rooms face right onto the beach. We pay our $15 beach entry fee and throw ourselves into the waves. Night falls. We take our places at the restaurant directly on the beach.

The restaurant has one of the more singularly expressed English menus that it’s been our pleasure to encounter and we are on the horns of a dilemma. Will it be Escape Medicinal Chicken or Sea Urchins Speculation Watkins? Finally we settle on Wild Burning Trash Fish. This turns out to be grilled fresh sea fish and it’s excellent. Accompanied by sauteed seaweed, a starter of cucumber and chili in sesame oil dressing and a dish of fried rice noodles. We are content. A light mist rises off the sea. Loud laughter and noises of Jia You come from the beach. A corporate weekend is having team-building sport, in this case tug-of-war. As they all collapse in laughter and the rope breaks, we reflect how even the seemingly simplest rituals are accompanied by complex cultural rules which are learnt young and passed from father to son. Except in this case they weren’t. How can you do a tug of war without the fattest boy in the class as anchor?

But we are supremely content.

We think of Rimbaud,

Un beau soir, foin des bocks et de la limonade,

Des cafes tapageurs aux lustres eclatants !~

Address: Shuitousha, Nan’ao, Longgang Bus: 360


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