Only in China: I wonder if Peter Hessler drove on this road

| March 10th, 2010

Peter Hessler’s new book "Country Driving" talks about driving through China. He says, "It’s hard to imagine another place where people take such joy in driving so badly." And then I saw this picture (from Tianya):

The text in the image says:

Only Chinese army people dare to drive on a road like this!
The Sichuan-Tibet line is extremely dangerous. On the roadside are the graves of many soldiers who died over the decades, including the skeletal remains of cars in the brooks and valleys. Actually, shortly after this photo was taken, there was an accident and a car fell over the edge, and two brave drivers died valiantly…

37 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Eason says:

    Brave? Died valiantly ? LOL. I guess you can waste life with so many extra men.

  2. Georgeson says:

    Salute the most lovely guys!

  3. GuoBao says:

    That’s not a road. That’s a goat path.

  4. fox says:




  5. Wang Er says:

    Salute to soldiers who scarified for the greater good!

    The Sichuan-Tibet highway is one of the three roads leading to Lhasa (other two are Qinghai-Tibet highway and Xinjiang-Tibet highway). Though it’s still one of the most dangerous highways in the world, I believe the situation has become much better (the caption in the video reads “documentary”) since the full opening of Qinghai-Tibet railway in 2006. The railway itself is an engineering miracle, watch the video on youtube here:

    If you read Chinese, I highly recommend a novel 铁牛滚滚高原汽车兵之歌 (search and read it online) on the harsh condition of Tibetan highways, written by a veteran who served in PLA’s logistics unit for more than a decade since 80s. A lot first hand experiences on Tibetan culture and military anecdotes.

  6. John says:

    Crazy road. Hate to say it, but in a way I agree with Eason, I, too, was struck by the comment “two brave drivers died valiantly…” There is NOTHING valiant about dying this way. Seriously, if the military really cares about its people, it should just upgrade that shitty cow path. What a horrible road!

    I’ll tell you who the valiant guy is: It’s the guy who finally succeeds in standing up to the Chinese military leaders and demands that the road is upgraded so that other guys don’t have to die just trying to drive it. That guy would be valiant. You know eventually it’s going to happen, but the guy who has the balls to say “I ain’t driving this shitty road until we bring it up to the modern 2010 standards”, now that’s a valiant guy with balls. And don’t tell me the Chinese army doesn’t have the resources to afford to fix this road up. They do. They just don’t care about their own men enough to do it. Sad.

    • Carl says:

      that’s what you don’t get. any soldier died on duty had died valiantly, because he/she was doing a task ordered by his country. that what u blind human rightist don’t see, you think the guy really wanted to drive there? would anybody? I don’t plan to hide my sympathy for the Chinese armed forces, I’m only saying that you are missing the big picture here.

      Perhaps you didn’t think of the difficulties of building infrastructure on those types of terrain.

      Perhaps you didn’t notice that there might have been an mudslide and the troops were bringing equipment and supplies.

      And maybe that was a one time trip and it’s not worth fixing since most the times human don’t even go there?

      Oh and the “I’ve got balls so I’d resist order by my superior in times of danger” arguments lacks in brain power. Think again.

      • GuoBao says:

        Actually it doesn’t lack brainpower but I see some of your points as well. I used to be a fire figther and I have received intensive training in search and rescue as well. You mention mudslides and other people mention rescue and bringing aid. Although those efforts certainly are valid excuses to deploy troops there is a general concept being overlooked here. When you go onto missions like these you NEVER put yourself in excessive danger. It’s not only about you and your team’s life but due to the fact that if you and 2-20 other guys tumble down the hillside in a truck you’ll be needing LOTS of people, helicopters and other valuable resources to help you which isn’t exactly freeing up others for the original aid work. China actually has plenty of helicopters for quick deployment in remote areas. It wouldn’t be too much to ask if these soldiers were deployed using those instead of what’s going on in these pictures.

        • Carl says:

          Fair enough, i was thinking of that while i was typing too. I can see the reasoning behind “I guess you can waste life with so many extra men.”, but the argument itself is simply … you get the idea.

          Plus, I don’t know what really happened there, and what went through the driver’s brain when he was about to go on a three feet wide trail on the side of a mountain. For pride? Proof of courage? Urgency? I don’t know, it looked stupid to me too. But a plain out verbal attack like the one i was responding to show a lack of depth in that person’s perception of a reality.

  7. Eason says:

    Obviously I didn’t consider being tactful, but it’s basically true. Would somebody who valued their men’s lives give them the order to drive over such a road in peacetime in their own country?

  8. Michael says:

    This is not the Sichuan Tibet road. It looks like one of the ‘unofficial’ roads in Tibet such as the one that connect Tibet with Yunnan in the Nujiang canyon. More pics and video here:

  9. David says:

    Well I’m British and find this Hessler nonsense part of a series of anti-Chinese elitism coming from the west. I can tell you London drivers are some of the most aggresive I’ve ever encountered. China is developing roads all the time. Give the country a chance. I found Chinese drivers, like most other countries, quite serene and well paced. Many countries have different styles of driving. But for the west to still antagonise China on roads is silly and populist. The west has a problem with people who do things differently. Always has.

    • bert says:

      Thanks for telling us you are British.

      I am Chinese and I find Chinese drivers are horrible, selfish drivers seeking every opportunity to cut anyone off, even people walking and riding bikes, at the slightest chance to get ahead. The countryside and small cities are even worse.

      There is no excuse (unless there was a major relief operation going on) to make people drive this road. The trucks are probably loaded with goods that the general wants to sell in some markets. He uses his valiant soldiers as mules to line his pockets.

      • British Chinese says:

        I’m mix British Chinese and I think both of you love cock.

        London taxi drivers are all Indians and Shanghai taxi drivers are cheaper than the rip off price you get in London, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper.

        Fuck the London Underground. Where the fuck’s my fucking train.

  10. KonW says:

    wtf lol? is this a work of photoshop and made up?

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