A Wedding in Sanya

One of Sawyer’s close friends got married this past weekend in Sanya, Hainan, which is often billed as the Hawaii of China. I was fortunate enough to be included in this very intimate celebration (there were maybe only 30 of us altogether, the bride’s side, the groom’s side, and us, the only two native English speakers).

We flew down Saturday morning, waking up at 6:00 to get ready. Luckily, Sawyer remembered to check if we both had our passports–for some stupid brain-glitch of a reason, I had forgotten mine. We took a cab to my apartment where I dashed across the street, climbed the (dirty, rusty, gross) fence (wearing white jeans) flew up all six flights of stairs, grabbed my passport, tumbled back down the stairs, over the fence again, and back to the cab where I collapsed for the rest of the ride to the airport. Way to go, Robot.

We got there in plenty of time despite my detour. Unfortunately, our plane was a long winding bus ride away from the actual gate. There was the requisite pushing and shoving and waiting to get on the plane. We were literally the very last people on the plane, unfortunately, since it was freezing and windy! I shivered and made misery faces until I could get out of the wind and into our seats, where I promptly went back to sleep as the plane started to roll into taxi position. A little over an hour later, I woke up. The plane wasn’t moving, we had never taken off. Eventually, we departed. It’s a four hour flight from Beijing to Sanya. The groom had arranged for the hotel to pick us up, and we rode for another hour with the German side of the wedding party in a beat up old van with a wheezy engine. It was a relief to get out at the resort.

I have to say, not that I frequent vacation resorts all that often, but the Marriott seems to know whats going on. At check in we were greeted with cold, lychee fragrant washcloths for our hands and faces, and icy cups of sweet tea. The room was great–a beautiful view of greenery and the beach below, a big comfy bed with fort’s worth of pillows. We wasted no time getting down to the beach for a quick swim and rest in the dying (but still warm) sun, before working out and hitting the sauna.

And then dinner. We wandered around the different restaurants–but really, was there any other choice than the beach-side barbecue buffet? Let me just say that I am a huge fan of sitting at a fancily set table complete with table cloth and chilled bottle of white wine, under the stars, with the waves lapping the shore just feet away, being able to bury my bare feet in cool sand. And of course, stuffing my face full of food. We’re just going to write off this entire week as filthy-fat-American week. They had steamed crabs, giant crab legs, mussels, shrimp, periwinkles, grilled scallops, grilled squid, grilled lamb, pork and chicken, chicken and beef skewers, garlic and chili grilled shrimp, and more. Buttery roast fingerling potatoes were the closest thing I got to a vegetable. Poor Sawyer had to witness me go up for four full plates and see my Asian shellfish-picking genes comes out. I nibbled on some fruit and tiny portions of cake for dessert as the groom and his mother joined us for a second bottle of wine.

We joined the rest of the groom’s side of the wedding party (all the Germans stayed in the same hotel, the Chinese side decided to stay in a more ‘Chinese’ hotel) at the lobby bar for a drink. I got through half of my overly sweetened mojito before the food coma started to kick in.

Sunday morning we got up early enough to get a work out in the gym before breakfast (and a good thing too, considering all the good meals this week). Marriott breakfast buffets are always very good, and this was no exception. Without going into detail, lets be content to say I ate a hearty and varied enough breakfast meal that even the Germans commented. After breakfast I was content to sit at the beach, read one of the books that Sawyer got me for my birthday, swim a little and sun. I reapplied sunblock three times and even sat with the shade up for an hour or so, but still, still I managed to get the weirdest, patchy painful red burns. Luckily, with the magic of makeup, I was able to erase the sillier tan lines.

The week before I tried to go shopping for a nice dress to wear to a wedding on a tropical island. Unfortunately, anything nice was super expensive, and anything affordable was trashy, covered in sequins and terrible. So last minute, last Sunday, I ran to Amanda Tailor with several pictures of suitable dresses. A few would have been impossible to make, and we selected the one she said she could definitely make by Friday. The only problem was that she didn’t have the same sort of stretchy material, only a stiffer one she uses for business dresses, but as long as I could breathe in it I would be happy. She did an amazing job!

The wedding itself was beautiful. A small ceremony in the ocean-side chapel, ceremony in Chinese and German, incorporating a handful of adorable children with flower petals, a tea ceremony, cake cutting and champagne waterfall. One of the children was a bit of a troublemaker, as he whined and fussed and actually started having a temper tantrum during the vows about not being allowed up on the altar, and he tried to drink the champagne. Afterwards we mingled with some of the other guests while the poor groom was subjected to Chinese sense of art and fashion and forced into silly poses including heart shaped balloons of the beach, and bending over awkwardly as some guy on a ladder threw rose petals at them for their wedding album

Then came dinner. It was really something (made me glad I skipped out on lunch, snacking on some fruit the hotel gave us in the room instead). Another beach side buffet, under a lane of lit up trees complete with violinist to serenade us. The meal started out with a generously laden seafood platter of shrimp, periwinkles, mussels, crab, and Maine Lobster tails. Sweet, sweet bliss. There was also a seafood bisque, a surprisingly spicy shrimp and avocado gazpacho, an amazing grilled teriyaki marinated chicken thigh, grilled lamb, grilled king prawns, fish skewers and more. And dessert, although I stuck to just a bite or two of wedding cake and pineapple cut into flower petals.

Then of course, the drinking started, several rounds of people going around and ganbei’ing, some celebratory cigars were smoked, and a merry and lovely evening had by all. The little troublemaker was all hyped up on candy. His doting grandmother actually gave him some sips of wine and champagne, I can only assume she was trying to knock the little brat out, but I’m pretty sure it just helped his raging partying.

I spent a lazy morning icing my burns and reading until it was time to leave, sitting on the deck listening to the melodic drumming of rain hit the greenery below. They arranged a driver to take us to the airport. By the time we got to the airport it was torrential. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed several hours, and Sanya airport has the most uncomfortable chairs I’ve ever had to spend time in at an airport.


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