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Canadian Adam Explores 'Road to Heaven' in Chongqing's Xiazhuang Village

By DENG, YANICHONGQING|Oct 30,2022

Chongqing – The eight-minute video “The Chinese Answers Behind ‘Tianlu'” went viral on domestic and overseas social platforms. In the video, Adam McWhirter, a Canadian, visited Chongqing’s ‘Tianlu,’ which means ‘Road to Heaven’ in Xiazhuang Village of Wushan County, a former ‘sinkhole’ village surrounded by cliffs. 

The villagers built the road on the cliffside. It took seven years and cost the lives of six villagers during the process. So he went to Xiazhuang Village to learn the story behind this spectacular undertaking.

“Their stories are worth hearing”

Adam likes to share, and he often publishes videos on Xiaohongshu, a social media and e-commerce platform. “Chongqing is growing to be a modern megacity, but there are also villages hidden in the mountains, and one of those villages is called Xiazhuang.”

Before the road was built, a narrow trail was Xiazhuang’s only access to the outside world. There are cliffs on all sides of the village, which led to numerous difficulties in building the road.

After arriving in Xiazhuang Village, Adam experienced the ‘Tianlu’ alone. “It only took him 50 minutes to finish, but I was inspired entirely. I knew the history, and every step I took was not easy for villagers.”

Adam experiences the ‘Tianlu’ in Xiazhuang Village, Wushan County, in Chongqing. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Adam also met with the inspirational heart of Xiazhuang Village, Mao Xianglin, visited the Xiazhuang Spirit Exhibition Hall, and had in-depth conversations with the villagers. After ‘Tianlu’ was opened, two new tourism projects started, with more to come. Adam also talked with several young people who had returned to their hometown to start businesses and chatted with the children in Xiazhuang about the future.

Adam listened to Mao Xianglin’s story of building the road in Xiazhuang Village. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

“The stories of Mao and Xiazhuang Village are inspiring and are worth hearing. Such stories took place not only in Xiazhuang, not only in Chongqing. Eliminating poverty is a global challenge, and what is taking place in Xiazhuang Village is one of the answers from China,” Adam said.

Adam and Mao Xianglin took a photo at the Xiazhuang Village. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

great changes in 15 years

Adam is currently the Managing Director of a real estate brokerage company and a social platform blogger who loves sharing and recording life in China. It has been 15 years since he came to Chongqing in 2007. He said that Chongqing is his home in China.

While in Canada, Adam accidentally saw a video on Youtube called ‘Chongqing From Above’ and was immediately attracted by the charming urban landscape of Chongqing in the film. “At that time, there was an organization in Canada that counted the cities with great development potential in China, and Chongqing was one of them,” said  Adam. In 2007, he got a job offer and did not hesitate to leave his hometown for Chongqing.

Over the years, Adam has been measuring the city in his footsteps. He is even more familiar with Chongqing’s tracks and mountains than many Chongqing people.

“Over the past 15 years, Chongqing’s urban construction has undergone earth-shaking changes. For example, I often ran past the Shibati old street, and when the Shibati was removed, it turned into a brand new look.”

Adam recalled that the traffic was not very well-developed when he first came to Chongqing. The train from Chongqing to Chengdu was very slow. When he went to Chengdu on business, he usually took a plane. Now, high-speed rail has become his best choice. “One word I often hear is, what plans will the Chongqing government have next year, and then when it comes to next year, you see these changes. So in Chongqing, you can always look forward to next year,” he laughed.

More livable for foreigners

In 2008, after working in International Taproom Street In Chongqing for about half a year, Adam saw many foreigners coming to invest in Chongqing, and he came up with the idea of starting his own business.

In Adam’s view, opportunities are constantly emerging in Chongqing. China(Chongqing) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the China-Singapore(Chongqing) Demonstration Initiate on Strategic Connectivity, the Guoyuan Port, and the New Land-Sea Corridor have accelerated their development, making Chongqing, a deeply inland city, increasingly at the forefront of opening up.

More and more foreigners come here to invest and start businesses, and Adam’s company is also prospering and growing. In communicating with the government, Adam also felt that the city’s efficiency is getting higher and higher, the attitude is getting more open, and the service is getting better and better.

After the foreign executives of many companies came, their children had to study and see a doctor. Then they found that there were more and more international restaurants and schools in Chongqing, and the city became more livable.

“We have not only provided services for foreigners, but many local customers, including Hongya Cave, have come to us for cooperation,” Adam said proudly that the company is based in Chongqing and radiates across the country, and now has offices in ten cities in China. The business covers more than 50 cities. He is willing to take root in Chongqing for development.

(Chen Qian, as an intern, also contributed to the report.)

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