We love tropical getaways and Hawaii is a favorite. So it did not take much to convince us that a visit to Sanya, the “Hawaii of the East” would be a vacation that would appeal to all senses. Little did we know then that the spectacular beauty of this getaway would bear witness to one of life’s irreversible losses.
Boarding our flight at Guangzhou airport, we got the much dreaded call. My beloved 92-year-old grandmother who had been ailing for some time with esophageal cancer was now in the “death-rattle” stage, a phase that signifies imminent death. We were deeply saddened, but did not register that the end was near. A few hours later, we landed in tropical Sanya on a perfect day and boarded our car to the Marriott. And then came the call, that grandma had passed away.
It was surreal; here we were admist breathtaking natural beauty, in a car taking us to a beautiful resort and dealing with a devastating loss. We all took turns sobbing in the car and our driver who did not speak a stitch of English was bewildered….Did he pick up three looney bins at the airport? Is this trio crazy to be in such a beautiful spot and yet crying their hearts out? He seemed nervous and this was confirmed when we had the most hurried drop off at the hotel.
We saw the ocean stretching as far as the eye could see. Groves of palm trees and huge overflowing masses of tropical flowers. Coconuts and coconut water being devoured by the guests. Was it destiny that led us to be in a place that was in so many ways a mirror image of where grandma spent all her years….in Trivandrum, Kerala in southern India. She loved fresh flowers, coconuts were integral to everything that she cooked and loved to eat. We dragged ourselves to our hotel room and talked about her role in our lives. We cried, we laughed and we asked for more tissues.
The hotel was beautiful, situated on prime real estate on Yalong Bay with beautifully landscaped grounds, a well maintained beach, and a handful of tourists (the Chinese had not yet learnt that lazing at a beach resort was the best way to holiday!). We spent hours sitting at the beach, talking, bonding, laughing and crying. We felt joy at the beauty before us and tremendous sadness at our loss. We felt guilt for being some place so perfect, when one of our dearest had lost her battle for life. On our last evening there, as we were taking a long walk on the beach, we came across the Ritz Carlton. We walked into Fresh 8, a beautiful restaurant that had a buffet benefiting royalty. Reluctant to spend a lot on a meal which may not be vegetarian friendly, and feeling guilt at having such a lavish meal so soon after a loss, we started walking away. That’s when the restaurant manager approached us. He assured us that we would have a great meal with choices from all of the food stations. He walked us over to a station where they were serving Indian food. The chef it turns out was from southern India. Was this grandma’s way of saying she loved us? Varieties of foods were laid out at our table, till we could eat no more. As we walked into the night and looked at the stars, we knew that the star in our lives would always be watching over us and Sanya would always hold a bittersweet place in our hearts.
To stay at the Marriott resort in Sanya, click here.
To stay at the Ritz Carlton in Sanya, click here.