After settling in our comfortable hotel- a nice change from previous field experience- Dr. Liang took us for an excellent meal at the street stalls near his university. In China in general, and the tropical cities in particular, small restaurants line the streets and food stalls, tables and chairs crowd sidewalks and street corners, allowing diners to eat outside and try snacks from multiple stalls. Dr. Liang ordered us an amazing array of local dishes: grilled fish on skewers, lamb kebabs, garlic oysters, fried cuttlefish, coconut soup, fresh coconut water (straight from the coconuts)- the meal was an excellent cure for jet lag.
The village was five-hour drive away, so we got a nice tour of the Hainan countryside en route. Our first impressions in Haikou were confirmed as we drove- everything in China is big, and getting bigger. Construction cranes were everywhere, and huge apartment complexes and multi-story houses were mushrooming along the sides of the modern highway. Even as we wound our way up twisty roads and deep into the jungle-y mountains of central Hainan, the road was freshly paved and small villages had running water, and new concrete houses sat amid small fields and flocks of chickens and ducks. We arrived at last in the small village of Qingjie, home to maybe a hundred or so people and surrounded by picturesque jungle and rice paddies. Most importantly, barn swallows were swooping overhead.