In the early 1970’s, the villagers of Guoliang petitioned the government to build them a road that will connect them to the rest of the country. Their village was located on a steep mountaintop, and the only way for people to reach or leave the village was a steep and narrow staircase called the “Sky Ladder”.
It was very difficult to negotiate down the staircase, which was often slippery and even the most surefooted of Guoliang villagers have a hard time using it. When their pleas for a mountainside road went unheard, the village leader, named Shen Mingxin, called for the help of his neighbors to build the road. Using hand tools, thirteen Guoliang villagers embarked on the construction of the road. Even during the construction of the Guoliang Tunnel Road, several villagers died because of the less-than-ideal condition of the location. The road construction began in 1972, and five years later, the villagers of Guoliang had their own road; a tunnel road carved right into the face of the Taihang Mountain, around a mile long, 16 feet in height and 13 feet in width.
While the villagers of Guoliang can be credited for taking action when their pleas went unheard, a do-it-yourself road does not exactly win points in the safety department. The villagers were, of course, not engineers nor trained in the fine art of road construction—thus, the only thing keeping vehicles away from falling into a fiery explosion into the rocks below is some roughly hewn stone pillars on one side. The road itself is not built into the most stable part of the mountain (again, the villagers were not engineers), and they dug right into the parts of the mountain that can be conquered by their hand tools. There are a couple of terrifying turns and twists in the tunnel, which will leave even the most skilled of drivers shaken, if not thoroughly scared.
At present, the Guoliang Tunnel Road has become a popular tourist attraction in the Henan Province. Many tourists enjoy the novelty of passing through a DIY mountain road, as well as the majestic views of the mountain peaks covered in mist, just like in the exquisite Chinese ink paintings. The Guoliang Tunnel Road is one of the major attractions visited by tourists from different parts of the world when China, a noted xenophobic territory, opened its doors to international travelers.
While the view from the tunnel’s “windows” are definitely exquisite and unforgettable, the Guoliang Tunnel Road is known for being a “road that does not tolerate any mistakes.” While the road has yet to endanger motorists for its DIY construction, plenty of drivers have met their end because of neglect and by underestimating the difficulty of the road. When driving through this tunnel road, make sure that you are prepared and can deftly handle the vehicle you are driving. Remember, even the most minor of mistakes can endanger your life, and instead of an unforgettable trip through a feat of local workers, you might end up in a hospital, or worse.