Taoping village is labyrinthine. There are 13 paths around each of the eight entrances/exits in the village. When the village was first built in 111 BC, an underground network of water passages were designed so that each family could fetch water easily.
Yang Buxian, 86, lives in the village's oldest house with her family. She invited Cheng to her home and pointed to the cracks on the wall. Other houses suffered similarly light damage, but no one in the village's 98 households were hurt.
Cheng found several village elders enjoying a pipe under the sun. "Everyone's the same. Life goes on as it always does," one of the old men said.
Local leaders have organized villagers to erect tents, and are estimating losses. Tents and food have been sent to the village, according to Long Xiaoqiong, a local tourism manager.
Cheng says the May 12 earthquake appeared more devastating than the Tangshan earthquake, which caused 240,000 casualties. He believes there was more of an impact on the people because the majority find it hard to survive without today's sophisticated forms of communication and transport.
Still, Cheng was nevertheless struck by the resilience of local villagers. He recalls that while they were at Luobu village, the cherries were ripening, and that local residents, volunteers and soldiers all joined hands in picking the fruit in an effort to compensate for losses.
"One of the villagers told us: 'As long as the trees are standing, they will bear cherries next year.'"
Cheng Weidong is a senior reporter with the China Ethnic Pictorial. Since the 1980s, the Beijing native has been to all areas where Tibetan people live. He has published hundreds of photos and won awards for his work
(China Daily June 17, 2008)