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?
A Beautiful Bride
Chinese newspaper reports, TV programs and online media)
Section of the Great Wall
Steps to Paradise 2