Driving South It not just the beauty of the place, but of its people, too. A drive through Hainan will inevitably result in stops along the way for food and drink. At each place, you can feel free to wander and attempt conversation with the locals. Often, even if you speak Chinese, it might have to involve a lot of hand signals, but eventually the message will get through. The people are genuinely warm, friendly and, as you might expect in a tropical paradise, laid-back. If you are travelling south from Haikou, stops at Boao and Wanning are well worth the time for the beauty of the old villages and waterways. Closer to Sanya is the resort area of Xinlong. Besides the world-class golf course and spa, there are similar natural attractions and examples of local culture to enjoy. Village Life Male visitors have to run a gorgeous gauntlet when entering the folkloric village of Long Gun, nestled in the hills behind Boao, about an hour?s drive from Haikou. A score of Miao minority girls, dressed in bright gowns (picture at right), line the path. As unsuspecting visitors nod politely and smile at the assembled beauties, a couple of girls dash out and grab the newcomer by the ear. 'It means hello,' one of the girls explained. Long RGun is a graphic example of how tourism can impact on a basic farming economy. About five years ago when the expressway from Haikou to Sanya was completed, the once-isolated village suddenly was within the roar of traffic. Tour guides began bringing the occasional party of tourists to Long Run. Some gave tips. It didn?t take long for the simple farmers to realise that here was a way of making a living immensely more profitable than sowing rice or climbing jungle trees to collect herbs. Today, Long Gun is a smoothly operating major tourism venture. It?s fun, informative and good natured; with a little more professional planning it could also be a highly educational and worthwhile addition to the island?s eco-infrastructure. There?s no doubt the Miao ethnic people are making a good living out of illustrating their heritage. It costs RMB 50 a head to enter.