We check out of our hotel in Haikou after an early breakfast of fried bread, kaffei hui nai he
tang and hurry up hugs good-bye. I board a bus with my new friends wode xin pengyou and depart for the Volcano Park. We climb steps cut from polished blocks of lava through tropical paradise dotted with large penjing and grotesque rocks, croton, bougainvillea, mango manguo, cactus xian ren qiu, aloe, coconut yezi, papaya mugua and red hibiscus dehonghua. We circulate the small, extinct crater dripping with exotic foliage and fluttering butterflies.
My companions at the park are two elegant ladies from Vladivostock, Russia, Alla Sheveleva and Viktoria Timchenko from the Far Eastern Federal University. They are mother and daughter researchers who presented in Section 17 with me. Their research, Gender and Complimentary Discourse, "The paper is aimed at describing gender variability of men's and women's communicative behavior in the complimentary speech acts correspondingly with the vector of compliments."
This is Stage I of their comprehensive project, pulling examples of compliments men to women
and women to men from classical English literature. Next stages include modern literature, and so on. This will take many years to complete, mapping the way men and women speak to each other. I think this will put gender issues into a structured and scientific basis, presenting a snapshot of the emergence of women's/men's social evolution. Something of a popular topic throughout the conference as Chinese men and women begin confronting their stereotypes, the same as all men and women are doing around the world. We stroll and visit, exchanging questions and stories.
Lunch in nearby pavilion of rice, bitter melon soup, steamed filled rice buns wrapped in ti leaves nian gao, sliced cucumber and abalone, fried ham, green vegetable ji amo cai, whole lake fish, dofu, succotash of corn and peas, tea and for a finale a platter of sliced papaya and starfruit. While eating we are entertained by young dancers in folk costume.
I am a little bit tired, so I drift outside and lay down on a bench, roll my jacket under my neck and gaze up at the clouds floating in a blue sky.
At the next stop, the Boao Forum for Asia ,I chill out, lying on the grass near the botanical garden on site. Ferns sprout from the
trunks of palm trees and underfoot. At 4:30PM it is 25 degrees C or 77 degrees F. Continuing our journey, the bus flies past pastoral countryside-- fields of crops separated by
palm and broadleaf evergreen forest.
The Mingyang Mountain Villas, where we stay the night, is a fabulous treat of luxury with hot spring baths, large swimming pool and little fishes foot massage. Lanping and I continue to be roommates. We are so happy kai zhe liang ge kuaile. Like sisters. Lanping he Chery shi jiemei :) We think this would be a great place for a CAFIC reunion someday.
The next day begins with a visit to XingLong
Tropical Botanical Garden with demonstration gardens of local specialties such as black and white pepper hei/bai hujiao, vanilla xiang cao lan and coffee kaffei are followed by tea and coffee service featuring a wide variety of beverages produced here. I buy several at the shop including something very bitter supposedly good for lowering blood pressure for my husband and Yulan magnolia scented vanilla perfume.
While sipping the tea and cocoa with milk keke yue nai with Algerian woman Siham Gourida from Nanchang University and XIANG (means Bear) Wei from Wuhan University we discuss promotional words. Here are some: Hao huo ye xu yao he Good products need bragging, Fa bu xiao xi Press release, chui feng hui Press conference, tui xiao pan Brochure.
By 1:30PM we are rolling into Sanya at 35 degrees C or 95 degrees F. The Chinese ladies are taking turns singing into the mike. I'm overwhelmed with emotion at the tune Changing Partners, a Patti Page hit from the 1950s. I would have attached the mp3 for your pleasure but I am forbidden from accessing my Amazon.com account. :( You will have to imagine a really sentimental song set to the tune of the Tennessee Waltz about going around and around in a dance, changing partners, waiting to hold your lover in your arms once again and then parting to dance in a round.
Most of the tour goes out after dinner to see a show, but I am a little pooped and stay behind with a few Chinese. The food perks me up in spite of our killing three bottles of Tsingtao beer at our table. We agree to meet in the lobby for a foot tour of the neighborhood to find the beach.
We have to navigate a REALLY BUSY LIKE CRAZY street packed with food vendors bar-b-queing various things, adding their meat smoke to the exhaust of the cars creeping past in both directions with barely inches to spare. Mobs of people threading around and in between. Thought I saw a European face, but when I spoke, he said he was from Kazakhstan. If you know nothing about this republic bordering China and Russia, the largest land-locked country in the world populated with our ancestor Caucasians, please click on the link for a fascinating article in Wikipedia.
Here and there are women in hijab hair covering scarves selling cheap beads and fake pearls. At last we discover a shadowy lane that draws us toward the dark beach and sea. It is wide and flat, easy for walking, and many people are out enjoying the pleasant evening. The waves are small and invite us to splash barefoot in the shallow ebb tide under starlight.
The conversation touches on the hopes and aspirations of these middle class professionals, concerns for their children and how this compares to the US. I keep getting the impression that this is like the 1950s for them, when we were buying houses, cars and toasters for the first time, wages were high and goods cheap, and mothers could stay at home with their children. A period we fondly look back on from these fast paced and complicated times. Not that everything was perfect back then, only seeming so in the expression of simplicity and wholesome values that underpin our culture. The Patti Page tune, again, the 1950s....
In the morning, its a quick shower and into our vacation dresses. The tour guide has promised us a chance to go swimming at Sanya beach, called the End of the World Where Land Meets Sky. Once we arrive, I change into my bathing attire, bikini bottom and surf shirt. Only one or two other men go in. The rest timidly play at the edge of sparkling blue water on the coral sand beach, fully dressed in vacation attire, the women holding sun parasols, splashing in the shallow waves while photographing each other with their phones. More Victorian than 50s era this morning.
After a cold shower for 10Y or $1.63, I change back into the red shift Lanping bought for me and go searching for an ATM. Lunch and farewell to my friends. Taxi to airport 55Y or $8.97. My two, overweight, checked bags cost me 348Y or $56.74.
If you wonder what happens when the Chinese TSA want to look in your checked luggage, they call you behind the check-in counter, where the bags disappear on a conveyor belt, if they are suspicious of anything. One time they spotted a small can of Italian turpentine packed with my plein air painting kit. Somehow, they found me in the airport near the check-in counter and led me into the back where I could open the TSA lock on the bag. The man unscrewed the lid and smelled it, passing it to another. I pointed to the tubes of paint and said, "hua hua," meaning painting. With a spark of recognition and a smile, he repeated, "hua hua," and let me zip up. Considering all the bottles of wine, tequilla, WD-40 (gifts), x-acto knife and scads of stuff in my bag, I think they are extremely tolerant of Chery's luggage.
The Southern China Airlines flight is very good in a small, new jet. I don't know the manufacturer since the cabin info is in Chinese, but it is very clean, new and comfortable in economy, not crowded, with individual movie screens, peanuts, moist towelettes, bottled water and hot tea for the short two hour flight to Guangzhou, the next leg of my journey.
Hou tou jian