The monkeys were great (more on them in a bit), but getting to the island was the best part. After the hour-long drive through rural Hainan, with pointy-hatted workers bent over rice paddies, small fruit plantations, dilapidated buildings, and strange species of pigs and cows wandering the streets in families, we arrived at said best part: the overseas cable car. It looks like a ski-resort gondola, only a lot more terror-inducing, with sagging spans of cable and sudden drops. It's a short trip, maybe 10 minutes, but it's magic. As the car took to the skies, we stared wide-eyed at the gleaming blue ocean below which, after a short stretch, transitioned to vibrant rain forest hills of uninterrupted green. As the cable reached an apex, the car lurched downward towards the forest, the ocean now on our left. It was pure beauty, seen from a rare perspective, and I was reluctant to get off.
And then the monkeys. They were everywhere, sitting on the side of paths, hanging from trees, climbing on the sign posts marking the way to various attractions. One smacked me on the backside with both palms as I passed by. Not sure what that was all about. We took in two shows which were pretty amazing, but not without a tinge of guilt. I don't think this kind of thing would fly in more sensitive countries. Some of the monkeys looked less-than-thrilled to be balancing on increasingly tall stacks of wood, walking on stilts, riding the backs of ponies, peddling small bicycles off ramps, or doing handstands on the back of a goat which itself was on a tightrope. Yeah. Don't pretend you wouldn't want to see that.
Side note: what is it about being the only foreigners at a place that makes the locals think you're part of the tourist attraction? As is often the case, Ness posed for photo after photo with random people. I sat off to the side and people snuck photos when I wasn't looking. Weeeird.
After the shows, we further walked the monkey-filled paths and stopped at the various observation areas. There were swimming monkeys, monkeys holding flags, monkeys you could pose for a photo with. I struggled a bit getting about, my foot and knee still badly sprained from having too much awesome on a boogie board. At one point, a man yelled something loudly in my face, pointing at my leg, which Ness roughly translated as "Your leg is hurt." Nice one, Sherlock. Despite the injury, I had a good time. After all, it was an island full of monkeys. Cute, playful monkeys. What's not to like?