China News 14th December 2022
We are all dreamers. The dream of a journalist is to record the progress of this great era with his own pen and lens, record the dream-chasing stories of ordinary people, from the recovery of the deep mountains, to the ecological changes of landscapes and forests, from the college dream of rarely ill teenagers to the sea of stars of Shenzhou astronauts...
The Dwarf Village Bridge was filmed on 28 March 2022
There is a Miao village, one "family" and one “Happy Village” in the mountains on both sides of Dezang Grand Canyon in Jishou City, Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Xiangxi, Hunan Province. Ten years ago, the young man of "Happy Village" married the Miao girl in the "Family Village" on the opposite mountain. The dowry team had to walk for a whole day, although the straight distance between the two villages was only 5 kilometres.
In western Hunan, the Wuling Mountains and the Xuefeng Mountains are curved and backed. Thousands of mountains and valleys, peaks and walls, steep and rugged, with dirt roads, cross the streams and mountains.
At that time, it was an unattainable dream for locals to be able to visit relatives and friends conveniently, efficiently transport the specialties of their hometown, and go to the outside world at will.
After the completion of "Dwarf Village Bridge", the journey that originally took a whole day to reach the "family" can now be completed in only dozens of minutes. In the long history, the travel dream that has been buried in the hearts of the local people has come true.
The Dwarf Village Bridge not only brings convenience to "family" and "happiness" and nearby townships, towns and cities, but also a basic project for local economic and social development. By 2022, the bridge will be completed and opened to traffic, which is also 10 years of vigorous implementation and promotion of poverty alleviation. From the beginning of the construction of the bridge, I have made up my mind to track and report it, recording the process of the bridge from scratch and the changes it brings to western Hunan.
Picture above: The Dwarf Village Bridge was taken at the end of "Happy Village" on 4 December 2021; below: The Dwarf Village Bridge taken at the end of the "Family Village" on 4 December 2021
Before the opening of the Bridge, land transportation in Hunan and Chongqing mainly relied on National Highway 319. The predecessor of this road is the Xiangchuan Highway built in 1937. Its Panshan Highway in the section of Jishou low slope in western Hunan circles between cliffs. Within 6 kilometres, there are 13 sharp corners and 26 almost parallel overlapping roads. The narrowest part of the road is less than 4 meters, which is extremely dangerous.
My colleague and predecessor Mr. Long Qiyun took a photo of Panshan Highway in Xiaozhai Miao Township in 1985. From this photo, you can see the corner of the "world highway wonder".
The road today is in extremely poor condition. There are traffic jams almost every day. Sometimes there is a traffic jam all day and all night, and there are often accidents such as vehicle rolling over. But even so, there are still thousands of vehicles passing through the Dwarf Zhai Highway every day, at most or even more than 10,000 a day, with heavy vehicles accounting for 70%.
In May 2011, the traffic police diverted traffic on the temporary wooden platform of the Dwarf Zhai Panshan Highway.
When the low-rise bridge was first built, the difficulties to be overcome were unimaginable, and the difficulty of construction was rare in the history of bridge construction in the world.
In the face of difficulties and obstacles, the builders of the bridge bravely challenged the "natural danger" and sweated in the deep mountains and jungle. The young and middle-aged labour force in Happiness Village and Family Village took dry grain, transported slag soil, built steel frames, and stirred cement, and participated in the construction of the bridge together.
The ground construction site of the bridge photographed on Sota on 20 May 2010
In the early autumn of 2011, when the bridge had just completed the suspension installation, I boarded the construction "Cat Road". Although I knew it was safe, the moment I stood up, the mountain was windy and the clouds and fog between the deep ditches rolled. I was still scared and turned on the "vibration" mode uncontrollably on my legs. After adapting for a long time, I gradually got rid of my fear and walked to the middle of the bridge to shoot the construction site at close range.
I think it takes me the courage to defeat myself for such a short dozens of minutes. How powerful the builders who have been working at an altitude of 330 meters above the ground for many years should be.
In that interview, the picture of the bridge I took on a beginning to take in the clouds and fog was later used as a cover by a British publication.
The low-rise bridge under construction was photographed on 2 May 2011.
From construction in 2007 to completion in 2012, I have travelled to Changsha and western Hunan many times for more than four years to record every important moment of the growth of this "cloud overpass". Finally, on 31 March 2012, the Xiaozhai Bridge, which pioneered many of bridge construction in the world, was completed and opened to traffic. To record this moment, I made careful preparations one day in advance: find and collect relevant information and explore the slopes on both sides of the bridge to find the best shooting location and mark it.
At 5:00 a.m. on 31 March, I rushed to the selected shooting site, took a bag of instant noodles for breakfast, put my bags on the rectangular cement pier by the roadside, set up a camera and began to wait for the sunrise.
Time seems to pass slowly. Finally, the clouds in the sky were stained, and a red sun penetrated the morning fog and spewed thinly from behind the mountains.
On 31 March 2012, the low-rise bridge will be opened to traffic.
About two hours later, the convoy participating in the completion ceremony slowly came from the other side of the bridge. I'm in my position to not only capture the passing scene, but also see the whole picture of the bridge - getting up early, not getting enough sleep, etc., and the smoke dissipated in an instant.
But later, I found that I had missed a very important scene: the opening of the bridge was a "big event" and "big news" that locals had not seen for decades or even hundreds of years. Therefore, many elderly people gathered in the closest place to the bridge to watch in the most gorgeous Miao clothes they only wear during the festival. In order to take a full picture of the bridge, the location was back, and the scene was crowded, so crowded that I couldn't move, so I couldn't take this picture. This can't help but be said to be a great pity.
In the past 10 years, the Dwarf Village Bridge has developed into a local tourism core brand, forming a "Dwarf Village Wonder Tourism Area" including roads, bridges, canyons and gardens. Around it, a "U"-shaped golden tea valley and the "farm stay" that has sprung up like bamboo shoots have brought visible and concrete benefits to the Miao people.
The Dwarf Village Bridge and Panshan Highway were filmed on 31 March 2022.
The Dwarf Village Bridge and Panshan Highway were filmed in December 2021.
Over the past 10 years, relying on the convenient transportation brought by the Dwarf Village Bridge, western Hunan has vigorously explored local characteristic resources to promote income through industrial development, and finally got the Miao people here to get rid of their poor life in the past and embark on Kangzhuang Avenue of rural revitalization.
The story of "Happy Village" and "Family Village" is the best interpretation. From the end of November 2021 to 31 March 2022, when I went to Xiangxi to report on the Xiaozhai Bridge, this story immediately moved me. At the same time, the names of the two villages also inspired me: the completion and opening of the Xiaozhai Bridge and the implementation of targeted poverty alleviation were not just to let "happiness" enter many Miaozhai's homes.
There are many similar vivid, and interesting stories. For example, Liu Lihui, the "tea daughter-in-law" of Pingnian Village, the "tat" of Huang Yong in Happiness Village, the "Miaoxiu Workshop" opened by Yangmei in the family village, etc., the local Miao people empathized with the life changes 10 years ago and were all full of their happy narration.
Therefore, many reports on the theme of "The natural graben changes the way, 'family' and 'happiness'" were born.
On 27 March 2022, Yang Meikai, a villager from the family village, showed tourists and introduced Miao embroidery.
Yang Meikai, a Miao girl from the family village born in 1991, is a member of a member who returned to the village to start a business. She rented her uncle's old house, cleaned up the dilapidated yard, hoeed away grass taller than people, and set up a farm stay. Sometimes, there are more than 100 guests at a long table banquet, and a "golden week" can earn more than 10,000 yuan. Yang Meikai, who graduated from folk arts and crafts, also found new business opportunities: tourists can "play and live in" in the village, and hope to "take them away". She organized the women in the village to run a Miao embroidery workshop, which was "ordered" according to the needs of tourists. An order was less than 100 yuan and as much as 700 to 800 yuan. The tourists were happy, and their waistbands were bulging.
On 28 March 2022, Huang Yong from Happiness Village entertained guests in "Farmhouse".
Huang Yong, 38 years old, returned to Happiness Village when the Dwarf Village Bridge was opened. At first, he set up a photo stall at one end of the bridge to take photos for tourists visiting the view of the bridge. Business was surprisingly good.
With the continuous updating and iteration of the mobile phone photography function, the photography business had gradually failed. Huang Yong simply closed the business and went home to build a small building to open a farm stay.
Huang Yong's new house is on the fifth floor, the restaurant on the first floor, the whole family lives on the second floor, and 8 rooms on the third to fifth floors. After visiting the bridge, tourists continued to play in the village. Huang Yong said that it is common to entertain seven or eight table guests a day, and there are more than 20 table guests a day during the peak tourist season.
Nowadays, the family village and the happy village have long been lifted out of poverty and walk on the road of rural revitalization, and the villagers are more confident in the future.
When interviewing villagers at the end of March 2022 to pick "golden tea", a Miao mother-in-law named "Sister Shi Man" said to me, "I'm 70 years old, and I can also pick tea at the door of the house. Pick two or three catties a day can be sold for two or three hundred yuan. When I was not busy, I followed the travel agency with more than a dozen people in Zhaizi, went to Nanjing to see the Yangtze River Bridge, went to Beijing to see Tiananmen Square, and went to many places, and took the high-speed railway and subway. It is very convenient to open the bridge. In time for this good day, we are happy people in Happy Village.
Ten years ago, such a life only existed in dreams. The bridge made the world smaller and made Miaozhai bigger. There are still many touching stories that have happened in western Hunan in the past 10 years. Over the past 10 years, under the leadership of the Party and the government, the masses here have fought against natural dangers and strengthened their industries, turned Qifeng cliffs into landscapes, sought advantages in dangers, and got rid of the poor life in the past.
For me, the dream of recording the changes brought by a bridge to the lives of locals is still continuing. In future reports, I may start from the story of Shi Man's mother-in-law and witness their pursuit of new dreams!
Worked on the article: