We leave Kunming on the bus headed for Guilin. On the way we stop at a poor Suni Yi village that still functions much like it has for hundreds of years. It has been insulated from tourists until recently when the village and its cemetery were designated a UNESCO site. Most of the houses are ramshackle. Some have tin roofs, some have straw. Some keep pigs next to their houses.
Like all Chinese, they adore their children. During the enforced one child per family policy ethnic minority people are allowed two children per family. The Chinese government enforces this with ostracism. An unregistered child is shunned by neighbors; he cannot get work as an adult, no one is allowed to hire him. His parents also suffer; they lose jobs and get punished in many, small ways. Farm people didn’t exactly have “jobs” like city people before collective farming. And now, collective farming has been discontinued. At one time they gave out free condoms and demonstrated them by showing how to use them by slipping them on their fingers. So the farmers put the condoms on fence posts, tree branches and anything but their privates thinking they would work.
The people here are not used to big noses parading through their village and they are a bit shy. Vicki asked us not to give them money and turn them into beggars. But, you can see the dollar bill in this little boys hand. One of our group “forgot”. It won’t be long before tourism will negatively and positively affect their lives.
From past experiences, UNESCO sites usually have some great beauty, but this site was chosen for its historical significance and rarity. Above ground cemeteries have not been allowed in China for several centuries. By law, bodies must be cremated.