We were in Beijing in April. John and I met a couple from Australia at breakfast who said they hated how the countryside was brown and the trees bare. No, people from a tropical country, it’s not pollution. We pointed out that Canada is also brown and the trees are bare in April. They didn’t believe us because like most tourists, they had visited Canada in the summer when everything is bright green (well at least until the dry dog days of August when the lawns go dormant if not watered) Suddenly, one day in Spring, everything goes green. The trees foam with green and the blossoms bloom. That’s what happened to us in Beijing. Without that conversation, I would have thought nothing of it.
Tomb Sweeping Day
When we started off, our guide said that the traffic would be good and there would be less people at the monuments because it was a national three day holiday with “Tomb Sweeping Day” on the Wednesday. The people in Beijing go to the hills and clean the family tomb. They burn paper money and paper houses for use of the people in the after life.
1.7 billion people have to be buried when they die. The Chinese government has decreed that everyone must be cremated. Even with cremation, the cost of a grave can be 10,000 dollars a metre for a prime spot. The further out from Beijing, the cheaper the plot. Very poor people scatter ashes on the hillside (our guide wasn’t clear if that was legal). Other people are fortunate if they have a home village. Our guide’s grandfather was taken to his home village to be buried.
Not all Chinese like cremation. Sometimes a body is smuggled out of Beijing to the home village to be buried intact. But most Chinese, like westerners, are quite accepting of cremation.
Over population isn’t just about one child families! It’s also: Where can people live (apartments)? Where will they be buried?