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More seniors head for Hainan in winter

By Liu Xiaoli  (China Daily)    11:01, February 19, 2015

Warm weather and beautiful beaches of Hainan province have drawn more elderly people to spend their holidays there. [Photo by Chen Gang/For China Daily]

They flock to the tropical island to escape the smog and the cold in the north, and their numbers are growing.

While most people will return to their hometown for the traditional family reunion during Spring Festival, Li Shangjie, a 79-year-old retiree in Qinghai province, had flown with his wife to Haikou, capital of Hainan province.

Li's daughter and son-in-law, a Haikou native, have rented an apartment for them.

For the last five years, the couple have gone to Haikou for the Spring Festival in the winter.

"The winter in Qinghai is so cold that I often get frostbite on my nose. The rarefied air makes it hard for people my age to breathe," Li says.

"After a sojourn in Hainan, I fell in love with the fresh air and warm weather and since then, I can no longer adapt to the winter weather in my hometown."

Like migratory birds, many elderly Chinese in recent years have been heading to the south of the country in wintertime to escape the cold. They live in their hometowns for the rest of the year.

Hainan, the country's only tropical island province that boasts good air quality, beautiful beaches and abundant sunshine, has become one of the top favorite destinations for the migratory elderly.

Weng Naiqiang, a retired photographer from Beijing, has been staying in Wanning city, Hainan, during the winter since 2012.

The 79-year-old who has bought a house in the city's Xinglong county, says he's celebrating his fourth Spring Festival in Hainan.

"While Beijing is shrouded in thick haze and fog in winter, Hainan is like heaven, with birds, flowers and sunshine," Weng says, adding the province's scenery is brilliant for taking photographs.

Weng's brother and sister have also bought apartments in the same residential compound. Weng's grandchild, a high school student, visits the elderly man and celebrates the festival with him.

Wu Guizhi, 63, who lives in Northeast China's Jilin province, has chosen to visit Hainan this winter with her husband for health reasons.

The couple came to Sanya, the southernmost city of Hainan on Dec 30. It was the first time they have spent the winter outside their hometown.

"My husband coughed a lot in my hometown and I have a heart disease. Now that we've stayed in Sanya for a month, he does not cough anymore and I'm in a good mood every day," Wu says. "We plan to return to our hometown in May, and come to Sanya to spend winter every year."

Hundreds of thousands of seniors from other provinces flock to Hainan to spend winter and the Spring Festival every year.

Sanya is the most popular destination, with the number of the elderly visitors hitting 300,000 annually, according to the Office of Sanya Committee on Aging.

These migratory elderly people have come to Hainan in winter to escape the smog and the cold. Sanya, which boasts a warm, friendly and relaxed environment, is a magnet, says Chen Limin, an official with the Sanya association of the elderly people.

Elderly folks who spend the winter in Hainan every year either buy an apartment, rent a house or book a room in nursing homes.

Wu Guizhi, for example, rents a single room in Sanya for 800 yuan ($128) a month. She is considering buying an apartment in the future.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Du Mingming,Bianji)

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