In March 2012, I cycled from coast to coast across Hainan Island off south east China.
I was researching a novel and hunting for the Medieval Earthly Paradise. Hainan is a tropical island and the southernmost point of China. I climbed the central “Five Finger Mountain”, the holy Wuzhishan, which is considered by the indigenous people of Hainan to be a bridge to heaven. When I reached the south coast resort of Sanya, I stayed in the Earthly Paradise Birds Nest Hotel (pictured above).
Following the route carved by BC Henry in 1882, the first European to attempt to see Wuzhishan Mountain (picture below), I started in Haikou on the north coast, where I rented a bicycle from Giant Bikes. I then cycled between night stops in Chengmai, Danzhou, Baisha, Wuzhishan, Baoting, Sanya and Yalong Bay, crossing three mountain ridges over two weeks.
I was looking for the Earthly Paradise on Hainan, following an idea inspired by a radical projection of the globe based on the Hereford Mappa Mundi.