In the poor southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou there exists a village of about 20 families that live in a natural cave. The village is called Zhongdong and it means “middle of cave” in Chinese. The cave is about the size of an aircraft hanger and was carved out over many, many years by water, wind, and seismic activity. [via]
To be sure, life in the village is tough. Villagers say they are lucky to make even 1,000 yuan ($129) per family a year.
Women give birth at home, in houses with dirt floors and wood-fired hearths. The nearest hospital is a five-hour walk away.
But in the last few years life has improved considerably, they say, somewhat optimistically.
Electricity has arrived via wires strung over the mountains, and there is a primary school, which like almost every other building in Zhongdong has no roof. It does not need one as the buildings are deep inside the cave.
Four houses now have televisions, some with DVD players, and some have washing machines. Satellite dishes are perched on outcrops at the cave’s entrance and there is even mobile phone reception.
The school has revolutionized life, villagers say. The children happily chat away in clear, unaccented Mandarin, unlike their parents and grandparents who still struggle with China’s official language or don’t speak it at all.
If you ask me, I’d say that the village of Zhongdong is also the world’s most technologically advanced cave habitat. With DVD players, satellite TV and washing machines, all this cave is missing is an internet connection and it’d be about as good as a typical college dorm (not including the travel time to get back home of course). How about that for an exotic life?
Click inside if you want to see more photos of the cool cave (and one of the village TVs).