Residents of Chinese “Sky Ladder” Village Move to Nearby Apartments

A move to less hazardous terrain

Zhaojue County
Zhaojue County in 1964.
Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / May 17, 2020 5:25 pm

For hundreds of years, the residents of the Chinese town of Atule’er have had a particularly impressive way to get in or out of their town: climbing “sky ladders” for two hours in either direction. The town is located atop a cliff, a little over 2,600 feet off the ground. In this case, though, “impressive” also means “dangerous” — and while the town became a popular action tourism destination, the idea of kids potentially risking their lives to get to school each day alarmed many onlookers.

In 2017, the local government raised money to replace the rattan ladders with more durable steel ones. The sight of it might still inspire vertigo, but it at least appears to be more structurally sound.

Now, there’s been a new development in the quotidian existence of Atule’er — namely, a lot of its residents are relocating to apartments a few miles away. CNN reports that 84 households have moved to apartments about 46 miles away, elsewhere in Zhaojue County. It’s part of a larger initiative by the Chinese government to move its citizens out of poverty.

That’s not to say that Atule’er will become a ghost town; far from it. CNN reports that 30 households will remain there. And the town’s status as a tourist destination is likely to be bolstered, according to the article:

Atule’er has become a tourist attraction in recent years. In 2019, 100,000 visitors generated nearly 1 million yuan ($140,878) for the village, according to Xinhua. Further development will service that industry, with officials planning to build a cable car to carry tourists up and down the cliff, the state-run news site Paper.cn reported.

It’s an interesting next chapter for this small town — albeit one that might involve less everyday risk to the people living there.

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