Where are you going?
To 云杉坪 Yun Shan Ping
May you return an inseparable couple
In your next life.
That could be what a local of 云杉坪 might have said to a couple venturing there. Situated on a plateau on on flank of the mighty Jade Dragon Mountain (5596m) near Lijiang, Yunnan at an altitude of 3240m, Yun Shan Ping used to be a favourite suicide spot for star-crossed lovers. The main reason for picking Yun Shan Ping lies in the fact that within the sea of beautiful flowers that bloom here every spring and summer, is a highly toxic plant called 草乌.
While most Han Chinese readily accepted arranged marriages in ancient China, the local Nazi people have always taken romance as part of their lives. Hence, many of these romancing Naxi couples resorted to suicide when these new rules were imposed on them by the authorities.
As Yun Shan Ping did not require visitors to check in, there are no reliable records of how many couples ended their lives here. Those who died here believed that after death, they would be brought to another time, another place where they could live happily ever after. The believers must have trekked up here in high spirits. Only to the non-believers would it look like suicide or execution.
Of course, today’s visitors to Yun Shan Ping are not necessarily star-crossed lovers and they are definitely not there to commit suicide. The huge expanse of grassland, the fir trees at the periphery, an amphitheatre of snow peaks, the silence and the knowledge that many people have ended their lives here give the place an eerie feel. But the only visible tragedy is the near-extinction of 草乌.
Many generations of star-crossed lovers in Chinese societies use the Buddhist concept of rebirth to console themselves that they would come back and be given a second chance in the next life. The above song by Andy Lau depicts a situation whereby premature death robs someone of the person he loves. What more can we do but to pray for a second chance in the next life?
At least for modern Singapore, the chances of being star-crossed again are slim. With few obstacles in their way, people create their own obstacles. Some are too busy trying to climb the corporate ladder to care for and love another person. Some are just too proud to give up the fight and surrender to the pull and entanglement of love. What if they were a Naxi couple who killed themselves on Yun Shan Ping? Hoping against all hope that they would come back to this world without the obstacles in their previous lives, only to shun each other when they meet in this life? What an irony and an insult to Cupid.