Learning about the Li – Hainan’s largest minority

ChinaTravel.net has an excellent, and cleverly titled, regular feature called “Minority Report” in which the Ctrip-sponsored blog explores China’s numerous non-Han peoples. In the most recent edition, Minority Report: China’s betel nut-chewin’ islanders, the Li people of Hainan, Sascha talks about Hainan’s large Li minority population and their long history on the island.

From the article:

Li Minority in Hainan - ChinaTravel.netThe first guy I saw out of the airport was a betel juice-spittin’ Hainan islander in flip flops and tube socks. He had a three-hair mustache and a kink in his neck that made him lean even when he was standing. He tried to charge me RMB 50 for a RMB 10 cab ride, and when I tried to haggle he just spat out some blood red juice, dropped his shades down over his eyes and ignored me.

That’s island.

While I was waiting for the Line 25 bus outside of Tianya Haijiao, I watched three kids naked from the waist down watch me as some chickens pecked in the dirt between us. It was hot as sin and the breeze was taking a rest.

A hip-swaying mama sauntered across the street and handed me a plastic cup of mango pulp and ice. When I dug in my pockets for cash she waved me off, spat some juice and waddled back across the street.

That’s island.

Things move slow on Hainan island, even when the modern world has encroached as much as it has in Sanya. The Li are making do as best as they can. They are street-level hustlers making as much cash as they can off of the tourists, and they are builders of new homes (using cash from the land they sold to resort developers).

Check out the rest of the article.

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