Across China: Hanging on for years, Chinese "cliff village" now at height of prosperity
TAIYUAN, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Isolation, once the very thing that locked people into endless poverty, can be a source of wealth, as the story of Baodu Village in a remote mountainous area of north China's Shanxi Province, tells.
Perched on a cliff at an elevation of 900 meters on Mount Taihang, Baodu was an obscure and backward place with little to be said about it. It only has nine permanent households and no road leads to there. But it never lacks visitors, who have to trek more than three hours through rapids and ravines to get there.
They come for its hidden beauty, surrounded by lush forest and often enshrouded in mist.
"The view here is uniquely splendid and fascinating," said a visitor, "but getting here is a tough task."
"It's hard to find the way here without a guide," said Fu Zhaoxi, one of the few local residents.
Fu, 57, has been just such a guide for two years. Charging 200 yuan (about 30 U.S. dollars) for a round trip, he can make around 1,000 yuan a month, the same as working on the land.
"The number of tourists is increasing year by year, we had more than 10,000 visitors last year," said Ji Xiqun, a local official. "Some came from Russia, France and the Republic of Korea."
The government has helped with electricity, water and the Internet connections, and built a public toilet and a camping site, but villagers insist there should be no road. They believe construction work will damage local environment and easier access will eventually drive away the tourists.
All daily commodities are hoisted from the bottom of the cliff by winches, another attraction to getting-away-from-it-all tourists.
By offering accommodation and food to tourists, all the nine households have escaped poverty. Song Anfu, 50, was one of the last. He made about 10,000 yuan in 2017 -- not a lot, but much more than before. Others can make around 30,000 to even 100,000 yuan a year.
Ji Junren came back home two years ago. "I can make almost the same money as working outside," said the 53 year-old. "The green hills and clean waters are our mountain of gold and we must try our best to protect them."
"We are still living on the cliff, but with a much better life than before," the man said.