Kirmo Wilen, a computer engineer from Finland, arrived in Hainan for the first time in November 2008 – and has returned every year since then.
The beautiful, diverse landscapes and the hospitality of the locals and their charming lifestyles are just some of the reasons why the 59-year-old keeps going back.
Also, over the past four years, Wilen, an amateur documentary photographer, has kept a photographic record of his travels, especially the traditional villages in Dongzhai Harbor.
He always stays at Xinghui village for a week with the 95-year-old Liu Jinmei, who runs a guesthouse.
Wilen records the daily lives of villagers, from newborns to centenarians, the area’s aboriginal culture, Mazu worship and Spring Festival.
Wilen is amazed by the mangrove forest and undersea village cluster, but says what amazes him most is the improving quality of villagers’ lives and the environment.
"I can clearly see the great changes, the diligent people who are embracing better lives but still have awareness of the value of protecting the environment."
In 2011, Wilen organized two photo exhibitions in the Finnish cities of Jyvaskyla and Parikkala, featuring photos taken by his friend, Huang Yiming, a Hainan-born photographer who works for China Daily.
"Wilen has great enthusiasm for living with the villagers. He enjoys leading a natural and simple life here. That’s why his photos are real and vivid," Huang says.
In November, Wilen’s solo photo exhibition is being held in Haikou, showing the differing lifestyles of villagers in both Finland and Dongzhai Harbor.
"I will continue to record the wonderful lives of the villages in Haikou. As a matter of fact, I treat it as my second hometown," Wilen says.
SOURCE: China Daily
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