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True Story
6,000 Steps to Paradise (1)

18 November 2006
 

1, A Stone Ladder

It was in autumn 2001. A group of explorers had walked through a dense, primeval forest in central China’s Sichuan province for two days. During the time they had not encountered a single soul, which made them suspect that they might have entered one of the remotest reaches on the planet.

Soon they once again were confronted with a steep hill that had its peak penetrated into the clouds. Just when they were about to do a hard rock climbing, a team member yelled out, "A ladder! Someone has prepared a ladder for us!"

He was not kidding. Not at all.

At the end of the tortuous trail that supposedly no-one ever took, there it was – a set of steps on a steep slope right stretching toward the lofty top of the hill, looked as if a linkage between earth and heaven.

But what surprised them the most was the fact that steps were evidently not an ancient remainder. Recent chisel marks on the stones and fresh soil scattered around all suggested that the steps were newly constructed.

Mysterious and uncanny as it seemed, they took the offer anyway. In the next two hours, they climbed 6000 steps wriggling their way up.

Once on the top, they found themselves landed in a level field with a view bluntly opened up before them. Under an unblemished blue sky, mountain shore stretched beyond sight.

All was quiet in the vast expanse of this untamed wildness.

Then someone heard a noise or two from deep in the thick woods. A thought that it might be from a beast set their nerve on edge.

The rustling noise among the thick foliage became louder and near, eventually two figures surfaced into the open.

To the great relieve of everybody in the team, they were not beasts, but people, one man one woman, in their advanced years. Both wearing old-fashion blue outfits paled from many washes and carrying firewood on their back, they were like the ones from another era, an era that the explorers only caught a glimpse of on the movie or TV screens.

Questions at once emerged in everyone’s mind: Who were they? Why were they here? And what made them roam beyond the fringe of the civilised world?

2, A Beautiful Bride

(References: numerous Chinese newspaper reports, TV programs and online media)

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Next: 6,000 Steps to Paradise 2

 
 
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