Our last night in Sanya was very memorable. In the morning we travelled to a national park in the outskirts of Sanya. The park was truly amazing, the scenery marvelous and the ride up to the park was phenomenal motion-sickness-central. We took a large bus that was driven like if it was a mini cooper, the narrow roads were scary but I am sure the drivers knew what they were doing. We reached the park safely and the entire group participated in zip lining across the forest. I was running around park like a child with a new toy. I love being outdoors and New York City often limits your experience with nature.
After the national park we travelled to Binlang Ethnic Village. At the village we were able to witness the ancient culture of the Li people, their customs, clothing attire, their homes and even their dances! The Li women sow quilts that take 2-3 years to complete, however they sow these quilts in front of everyone. In my opinion the Li women were displayed in a manner in which objects are displayed. The visitors gather around the Li women, I personally compared the way the Li women are portrayed to how African tribes were presented in the World Fairs of the late 19th century and early 20th century. I enjoyed the tour, but not the way the Li women were represented.
Towards the end of the day, a couple of students and I went out to the city for dinner. The local food was outstanding, we had oysters, shrimp, crab, soup, crawfish and pretty much any type of seafood you can imagine. While eating dinner a child came up to our table and kindly insisted on us to buy his roses. One of our classmates explained to me that these children are often victims of human trafficking. Our classmate further explained that they force these children to work and if they don’t meet a certain quota they are punished. The punishment became evident as scars were seen on the child’s right hand; the scars seemed to have been caused by cigar burns. I became extremely saddened and I gave some money to the child and told one of our Chinese classmates that I did not want any roses but to just take the money. The child explained that he had to get rid of some of the roses to show that he sold them and he gave us two roses.
Shortly after, another child came up to us. This child insisted even more and would not leave our table. The child was also asked where he had received the scars on his hands but the did not reply and ignored the question. The child left after we gave him a few Yuan. Again, with tears in my eyes I was hopeless and felt like I could not do anything about the situation. These children are helpless and innocent; they have been stripped of their childhood.
Nevertheless, the negative experiences I witnessed occur all over the world and should not take away from the beauty and amazing people and their remarkable culture. Despite the sad moments Sanya will always have a part of my soul.