What a week! This year’s Project Week was very different from what I had expected it to be, but it still turned out to be lots of fun. We spent our first two days in a fishing village about an hour from Sanya in Hainan, worked with and learned about sea turtles and explored the area. The next two days we were in another village in Ling Shui, where we taught English to middle-school children, danced and played games with them. Finally, for the last two days, we went to Sanya and basically lay on the beach for two days straight. I’d say, overall, this project week had a bit of everything you’d need for a successful trip: time for service, time for fun and action and time for relaxation. But let’s start from the beginning.
The morning of our departure was already a very good forecast of how some parts of the rest of the week would work out for us. Having breakfast in the canteen before leaving for the airport, our group soon realized that one of us was missing. After one of our student leaders woke him up, Clinton, the 1st-year from Australia, came flying down the campus road to grab breakfast before he joined us on the bus. This was certainly not the last time he overslept that week. Our plane departed at noon an Saturday. The flight was actually very short – only a little more than an hour! Being used to long and painful flights of 13 hours or more by now, this flight felt like closing your eyes for a few moments would bring you right where you wanted to go. Stepping out of the airplane in Sanya, a wave of heat and dust welcomed us to Hainan. It was at least 10°C hotter than in Hong Kong and I was mildly regretting the fact that I had put on long pants in Hong Kong in the morning. I quickly changed in the airport, while everybody else waited for the baggage or admired the beautiful architecture of the airport building: It looked more like a tropical hotel, rather than a place where tourists would merely walk through for baggage claim and immigration, and not stay. The walls of the hall were wooden and beautifully bent; there were white figures and statues standing around palm trees and an outdoor area for waiting passengers, with rock ponds and wooden benches. The only thing that would have completed the atmosphere was a pool, but apart from that, the airport looked marvelous! What all of us laughed at was the huge pineapple-shaped figure installed over the terminal building. At first we thought this must be some sort of joke – but in the end of the week, when we were not able anymore to count the pineapples we had eating on both hands, we understood the meaning of pineapples for this region.
After claiming our baggage and leaving the terminal, our group met with three volunteers that currently worked at the sea turtle hospital we had come for. Two of them were girls from Hong Kong and Australia, who had studied Wildlife and were now trying to gain experience all over the world. The third person was a local guy who was interested in protecting sea turtles and hence helped out, too. They had organized a bus for us, which took us to our hostel – and that, to be honest, was a bit of a shock. Through my diverse other project weeks in LPC I have become used to low-class hostels, but I must admit that some of them are still quite dreadful nonetheless. When we opened the bathroom door, a horde of mosquitos welcomed us and rushed away into all directions; mainly behind the curtains and under the beds. The beds were so hard it felt like lying on wood, with sheets that were stained in colors I didn’t even want to look at too closely. My roommate-for-the-week, Oda from Norway, and I simply dropped our bags onto the wooden couch that stood in the room, grabbed our money, cameras and passports and left the room as quick as possible, to meet downstairs with the other students. Time to explore the fisher village!