Published: June 2nd 2008June 2nd 2008
The Most Dangerous Road In China?
One insane road trip along the cliff edges
Guoliangcun was another one of those small towns that was incredibly difficult to find. We left Shaolin in the early hours and got on a local bus to Luoyang and then made our way to the long distance bus station in Dengfang. At first we struggled to find the long distance bus station, because everyone kept pointing us in different directions. I got the feeling they didn't have a clue what we were asking and they just wanted to get rid of us. Occasionally we would approach people for directions that would give us a confused look and then proceed to run down the road to get away from us! We found this reaction to our presence hysterical!
We eventually found our way and got on a long distance bus for a days travel. We made our way to Zengzhou and then caught a connecting bus to Xinxiang. Unfortunately when we arrived in Xinxiang we soon realized that we had missed the last local bus to Guoliangcun. We didn't really want to lose a day in Xinxiang because our China visa is running out, so the negotiations with taxi drivers began.
The Chinese taxi drivers are a real pain
On The Road To Guoliangcun
How it looks from inside the roads tunnels
in the arse, they try to fleece you blind. We argued with a few before we managed to find a reasonable price (try arguing while using cherades - its hysterical). Even then, we had to trust a taxi driver who we had successfully pissed off through harsh negotiations to take us to our destination. We didn't have a clue where we were trying to get to, if he had dumped us at the side of the road we would have been screwed. We drove through some very dodgy towns and yet again I felt an un-nerving feeling in my stomach.
Guoliangcun is a high altitude town nestled away on its cliff-top perch high up in the Wanxian (Ten Thousand Immortals) Mountains in northern Henan. For centuries it has been sheltered from the outside world by a combination of sheer inaccessibility and anonymity. Until recently the only way into and out of the town was via a very dangerous sky ladder up a cliff face high into the mountains (similar to the ones we climbed in Xian). Fortunately it is now connected to the rest of the world by one of the ten most dangerous roads in the world knows
Balancing On The Edge
Hay, its a long way down!
as Precipice Long Corridor!. Lucky for us, this was exactly what we had come to see.
As we approached Guoliangcun we immediately set sight on Precipice Long Corridor. Our Taxi driver originally tried to dump us at the bottom of the road and told us to walk, we refused to get out and made him drive us up the dodgy road high up into Guoliangcun.
Precipice Long Corridor is an insane stretch of road carved into the face of a cliff. Its almost like a tunnel, but with large gaps just large enough for a vehicle to lose control and fall throusands of meters. The structure and tunnels within the road don't look very well constructed. One day I can see the entire thing collapsing, especially if there is an earthquake!. There are huge cracks in the tunnels and foundations. Cars whiz up and down the road without a care in the world. Our taxi driver was slightly more careful, he wasn't happy we had made him drive us to the top!
When we arrived in Guoliangcun we stayed in a converted home stay. Things are very basic with mind boggling views of stunning landscapes, cliffs and
mountain ranges. We wondered around the old town while watching the locals follow a fairly primitive way of life. Whoever came up with the idea of building a town this high up in the mountains must have been either insane or paranoid. Its one hell of a hike. Getting supplies into the town must have been a nightmare!
We spent some time independently hiking high up into the mountains. My memory of China is definitely going to be the million carved steps I have climbed while hiking high into mountain ranges. I think I will need some new knees when i return home to the UK. We were told there was only 4 other foreigners in town. I guess not to many foreigners make it out this far. Its always a nice feeling to get off the beaten track.
--- Boys will play! ---
While in the mountains Glyn and I thought it would be funny to start throwing rocks off the cliffs to hear the clatter as they fell thousands of meters into the valley. Of course as we began to mess around, the rocks were getting larger and larger. Eventually we grabbed hold of a bolder and with all our strength lifted it over the side of a cliff face. As it fell it sounded like a landslide. We both ran away like naughty school kids. It made a right racket while echoing between the canyons. We were half expecting to get arrested when we got to the bottom. It was pretty stupid but very very funny!