Caves as homes: 30 million Chinese people live like the Flintstones

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Although the Philippines is famous for its awe-inspiring caves, not many people choose to live in them. However, in China there are enough sub-terranean living quarters to house the entire population of Canada. And Justin Bieber.

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They’re the modern stone-age family

While China quite rightfully enjoys it’s reputation as a rapidly modernised country, when you dig deeper and travel further into the distant provinces, some things have remained unchanged for time immemorial.

Today “cavemen” are still common in rural China, with more than 30 million “troglodytes”. To be clear, this isn’t some sort of lifestyle choice, it’s just the way it is.

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These caves, called ‘yaodong are called ‘home’ by their inhabitants in and around Shaanxi Province due to the soil being so easy to dig out. In some places the amount of homes dug side by side have created quite substantial villages.

 

While in cities like Bejing or Shanghai, rents are running out of control, if you’re happy to live underground you can secure a roof (or mountain) over your head for just $30 a month.

They are also getting popular as vacation getaways for the hip, young, trendy crowd. How better to get close to nature by sleeping underneath it?

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One surprising advantage of these underground dwellings is that they are extremely resilient to earthquakes. During numerous quakes, towns and cities have been devastated, while the caves have been unaffected.

Caves aren’t for everyone

Though the cave life isn’t for everyone, some people have built elaborate structures, real labours of love, with running water, electricity and satellite television and all the other luxuries of modern life.

Traditionally, the height of luxury was a ‘kang.’  These are stone beds, which are beautifully cool in summer, and can be heated with a small fire in winter. 

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To conclude, and to put that headline figure in context: In China there are more people living in caves than there are living in Australia and New Zealand combined. Yabba dabba do.

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