Saturday, November 11, 2006

Click the photo for a slideshow.

This is Guoliang Tunnel, in the Taihang mountains in China. Pics are zooming around the internet claiming it's the Road of Death in Bolivia...but it's not. Here's the story:

"We chose the tunnel. Sitting by the elderly driver I was lucky to hear the story about the tunnel. Before 1972, the path chiseled into the rock used to be the only access linking the village with the outside world. Then the villagers decided to dig a tunnel through the rocky cliff.

Led by Shen Mingxin, head of the village, they sold goats and herbs to buy hammers and steel tools. Thirteen strong villagers began the project. It took them five years to finish the 1,200-metre-long tunnel which is about 5 meters high and 4 meters wide. Some of the villagers even gave their lives to it. On May 1, 1977, the tunnel was opened to traffic.

When I was mulling over what the tunnel looked like, the van started a very steep ascent. I looked up and could not move my eyes away - it was so beautiful! All of us were excited. We found ourselves in extremely gorgeous surroundings - against the blue sky, with a path frighteningly narrow, and the cliffs piercing the sky.

All of my fellow "donkeys" stopped talking; some were busy taking photos, some were just dumbfounded. The golden sun shone upon the ground and through the air vents in the rocky wall of the tunnel. We were sometimes in the dark and sometimes in the light. I was deeply moved and even wanted to cry, for the sacred Guoliang Tunnel and for what the villagers have done - to triumph over nature.

In about an hour, the small van slowly took us to the unsophisticated village surrounded by the towering mountains. The village, more than 1,200 meters above the sea level, seemed as if it had retreated from the world. Everything there was made of stone: the village gate, roads, bridges, houses, tables, stools, bowls and chop sticks. It is said the village originated from Guo Liang, a peasant army leader who used to fight there in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24).

There are currently about 83 households in the village with 329 people."

(from Tom's Jokes Collection)