Guoliang Maps
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GUOLIANG MAPS
Written by Rick Archer
October 2009

For the record, the correct coordinates for Guoliangcun are

35ー43'52.64"N, 113ー36'13.77"E

 

FORWARD

Assuming you read the Search for Guoliang, you are well aware that this small village has been misplaced all over China!

During my research, I counted at least seven different provinces with a "Guoliang", including Tibet, Sichuan, Chongqing, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Hunan, and of course Henan.

Since there has been so much confusion, the purpose of adding these maps is to allow other people to pick up the trail and confirm the work I did.

I helped lose the place, so I am now determined to help find it! 

If you do take the time to retrace my steps and discover an error, by all means contact me.  I am committed to clearing up the confusion and welcome all the help I can get. 

Rick Archer
dance@ssqq.com 

 

During my three day search, I had been tricked by so many false "Guoliangs" that I was still suspicious about the place I had designated as the ONE TRUE GUOLIANG

I made a decision to use all three maps - Google Earth, Google Maps and Maplandia - in conjunction with each other to double-check my work.

MAPLANDIA

Maplandia is an odd service provided by Google.  It is a cross between Google Earth and Google Maps. 

Maplandia starts off like a map, but when you zoom in close enough, you start to see the same satellite imaging you get in Google Earth.

In this particular "Maplandia" map, you see Henan Province along with its capital city Zhengzhou.   Now you have the Big Picture

 

In this particular "Maplandia" map, you see the two starting points - Xinxiang and Huixian - in reference to Shayaoxiang, the village nearby Guoliang.  

The map on the left illustrates Provincial Road S229, aka the Road to Guoliang.

The map on the right gives a closeup look at my original search area.  The Red X marks Guoliang.  The search area is defined by two distinct rivers.  One of my great frustrations was my inability to locate a name for either one. 

The north-south river connected to the Sanjiaokouxiang Reservoir at the top of the picture. 

The Road connecting S229 to Guoliang followed alongside the East-West river.

 

I never located Guoliang using Maplandia.  However I did run across one useful clue.

Nanping (or Nanpingcun ) was mentioned in some of the blogs I read as being a village very close to Guoliang.

"We had only planned to stay 1 night here (in Guoliang), so the next morning we caught a taxi to the next village, Nanping, where we got on various buses - Nanping to Huixian to Zhengzhou and the final change our next destination, Song Shan Mountain."

As you can see in the picture, I was able to locate Nanping using Maplandia.

 

 

If you decide to retrace my steps, you will do well to locate what I call the East-West and the North-South Rivers.  Both rivers served as obvious reference points.

Provincial Road S229 was The Main Road to Guoliang as far as I was concerned. 

At a certain point near Nanzhaizhen, there was the "Second Road to Guoliang" that branched off to the west from Provincial Road S229.  The Second Road to Guoliang ran through a long valley parallel to the East-West River.

Nanzhaizhen was the town that was closest to the connection of the north-south and east-west rivers.  One mystery that I never solved was the exact spot where the bus would turn from Provincial Road S229 to go to Guoliang.

At first I assumed it would be Nanzhaizhen because there was a clearly marked road heading west.  Later on, however, I noticed a smaller road that might serve as a possible short cut to Dongpo located along the East-West River.

I will cover this in more detail when we get to a better map.

 

FINDING GUOLIANG

As I read all the blogs, Zhengzhou, Henan's capital, Xingxiang, and Huixian were listed as the three most likely departure points on any trip headed to Guoliang.  The distance from Zhengzhou to Xinxiang is 42 miles.  The distance from Xinxiang to Guoliang is 44 miles.  Therefore the distance to the small village of Guoliang from Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province, is 86 miles.

Using Google Earth, I have placed an enormous picture which will show the route to Guoliang.   S229 is the Main Road to Guoliang.

S229 takes you Xinxiang to Huixian, a distance of 13 miles.  The distance from Huixian to Nanzhaizhen is 23 miles.  The Turnoff Road from Nanzhaizhen to Guoliang is 8 miles further.

Just to give you an overview, here are two small snapshots of the area you are about to survey.  Please be aware that at any time you can bring up Google Earth and retrace my steps without trouble.

Finding those towns using Google Earth was pretty tricky sometimes.  They stayed invisible unless you either knew where to look or stumbled across them.  Be sure to click "Populated Places" and "Roads" on your SIDEBAR for wonderful extra information.

When you open Google Earth, you can go directly to Guoliang by pasting these coordinates:
35ー43'52.64"N, 113ー36'13.77"E

Or you can explore by starting at Zhengzhou, the capital.  Start by typing in "Zhengzhou, Henan, China".  Theoretically Google Earth will take to the picture you see on the right.  From there, head north and zoom in till you find Xinxiang.  After Xinxiang, now it is time to look for Huixian which is ten miles north of Xinxiang.

Huixian might be tricky to find.  You will have to zoom in.  For example, after I found Xinxiang, I had to click eight times before the name "Huixian" appeared.   Once you find Huixian, you should be ready to match the screen that you see on Google Earth to my picture below.

One warning -  you will be surprised at how "invisible" many of the villages stay unless you are at the correct focus level.  You won't see those towns listed in white shown below unless you take the time to zoom in at the EXACT SPOT. 

SUGGESTION -   If you go "split-screen" with my Internet Page and Google Earth, you can put the two pictures side by side.  This trick will allow you to retrace my giant picture below and see both screens at the same time.  That will make it easier to find things.


Now it is time for another giant map.  Our new map is a Google Map view of the same area as the Google Earth picture above.  The Google Map picture below is a different way of looking at the Google Earth picture above.  I did this to give me two looks of the same place.  I used this technique as my way to double-check my work.   Guoliang was hard enough to find.  Let's not lose it again.  Plus this time I intend to make there are no more mistakes!


Distance between each segment (according to Google Maps)
Zhengzhou to Xinxiang: 42 miles
Xinxiang to Huixian: 13 miles
Huixian to S229/S228 Fork in Road (stay to the left on S229): 15 miles
S229 Fork in the road to Nanzhaizen: 8 miles
Nanzhaizen to Guoliang: 8 miles

Our next picture is a Google Earth closeup of the area around Guoliang.   As you see in the picture, the "Second Road to Guoliang" follows the East-West River through the valley.  Please take note of Shayaoxiang - for some reason, this town shows up on the maps long before Guoliang does.


English and Chinese Directions to Guoliang
(Courtesy of Luke from China)

郑州万仙山

距离:约150160)公里

车程:约2.5小时

线路:郑州走花园路(或走107向北直走过黄河桥107郑(郑州)新(新

乡)快速道新原收费站(已撤销)过新乡过高架桥过十字路口(左

辉县,右濮阳) 下一个十字路口(左侧有一加油站)左转走新乡北环路约走

11 公里新辉立交右转上新辉公路向辉县方向抵辉县市区的第一个转盘左

辉县市 南环路辉县市西环路小屯转盘直走(向山西方向)岳村收

费站(已撤销) 15 公里愚公洞南村转盘向左转15 公里 南寨镇丁字路口左转(有

路标)12 公里抵达万仙山景区

Go to Nanyang Lu or Huayuan Lu, get on G30 连霍高速east, then take expressway (G4, 京港澳)

north towards Xinxiang. Get off on expressway G5512 晋新 (exit after 新乡市区出口, S308) and go

west. Take 2nd exit (新乡西, S229) and go north. After about 9km, follow S229 as it jogs west with

S306 for about 4km, then continue north on S229.

Go past 高庄乡政府, 六台山村, 五一洞, 九大洞, 石岭. After 南村镇卫生院, follow S229 as

it forks left this is the 3rd exit on the roundabout, according to Google Maps. (Don稚 take S228

straight ahead). This is about 40 km since getting off the expressway.

Go 12 km. At the 南寨镇 intersection, turn left off S229. After 3km (near Shanwan) there will be a

sharp bend to the right...road may now be called 达业路. After 8.6 more km (perhaps just after the

WanxianShan checkpoint), turn right and go 3km to the village.

~30 minutes to get on expressway going north

~50 minutes until getting off expressway at Huixian

~1 hour on S229

13. Turn left (i.e., off S229)

600 m

14. Turn left

950 m

15. Slight right

1.4 km

16. Slight right toward 达业路

8.6 km

17. Slight right onto 达业路

3.1 km

18. Turn left

Destination will be on the right

250 m


 

 

HOW MUCH TIME?

Rick Archer's Note:  Estimates for the trip to Guoliang range from one hour to two and a half hours.  Blog One says one hour.  Blog Two says 2 1/2 hours from Huixian.  Blog Three says 2 1/2 from Xinxiang.  A Travel Guide says 2 1/2 hours from Huixian.  When I discover the true time, I will let you know.

Blog 1 - Used as the backdrop to numerous Chinese films, Guoliangcun痴 mountain scenery and its delightful stone-clad village make it an increasingly popular side-trip from Zhengzhou. Located one hour north of the capital city by road, this offers a chance to step back in time.

(Rick Archer's Note:  This claim of a one hour trip is contradicted several times below.)
 

Blog 2 (Marizanne) - We made it to Huixian. As this part of the trip was only supposed to take maximum 2 hours, we were already fed up at this stage. Here Marizanne desperately had to go to the toilet and made a dash for the public toilet. It was in a little building far away from the main bus station building and as soon as she entered, she knew why.. We have seen many 都trange toilets on our trip so far, but this was officially the worse toilet experience of her life (bad enough to even make it on the blog)!

The next bus journey to our final destination, Guoliangcun, was over in 2 and a half hours (thankfully!). We got dropped off about 3km from the village and had to take a taxi.
 

Blog 3 (Darren Crawford) - Guoliangcun was another one of those small towns that was incredibly difficult to find. By the time we arrived at Xinxiang we were exhausted and really didn't fancy the prospect of getting on a taxi to get to a bus stop to take a bus to get to another bus stop where we could catch a bus to a town where we could pick up a mini bus which would take us to the bottom of a 3k hike to the place we wanted to go. When a taxi driver offered to take us there for about 」12 we just said ok and slept in the back of his cab for the 2 and a half hour journey.

The only thing I really remember about that journey was when the driver didn't fancy paying to use a toll road he bought a packet of cigarettes and gave it to a farmer to let him cut across his field. Which was pretty funny I thought.
 

From a Travel Guide - Wanxian Mountain Scenic Area, situated at the central part of Taihang Mountains, lies 55 kilometers (34 miles) at the northwest of Huixian City.   Officially, the entrance charge for Guoュli瀟gcun is Y35 (admission to the Wanxian Mountains Scenic Area), although your minibus driver may offer you a slightly better price to speed you past the checkpoint.  The area around guoliang has been turned into a 'geopark' with hiking trails that lead to various geological phenomena of interest, including caves, springs, pools, and viewing stations.
 

From another Travel Guide: Ask the driver to drop you at the Huixi瀟 stop for buses to Guoli瀟gcun (Y10, 2ス hours, depart 8am and 1pm). Note that buses from Huixi瀟 may have the characters for Guoli瀟g on the window, but may (depending on passenger number) only stop at N疣png, a village at the base of the road to Guoli瀟gcun. From N疣png it is a steep 3km walk to Guoli瀟gcun up the mountain road

 

From: Luke from China
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: guoliangcun

Hi, Mr. Archer -

I live near Guoliang and was thinking about visiting, so I used your coordinates and Google Maps.

In answer to some of the things you were wondering about on your page, Google Maps says it takes about 3hrs to drive there. From about anywhere in Zhengzhou, I think you'd have to figure about 30 min. to get on the freeway going north. Then, slightly under an hour until you get off the freeway at Huixian. Then, the total time on S229 may be about an hour. Then, it's anybody's guess as to the last part. I think the road is paved until you get to the place marked Wanxian Mountain Scenic.

Oh, about the bus time ... it very well could take a really long time on a public bus, going from Huixian, because the buses stop EVERYWHERE. :) And they don't go very fast.

I probably will give it a try this summer sometime. Unfortunately I don't have a car or a China driver's license, but a friend of ours has a van and we may go with him. In addition to the actual route, I'm curious to see what kind of lodging there is in the village.

cheers, Luke DeKoster
 

 

A NOTE FROM SUHAN, THE MAN WHO GOT THE SEARCH FOR GUOLIANG STARTED

From: Suhan
Sent: Friday, October 23, 2009 12:28 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Regarding the Guoliang Tunnel

I just finished reading the story for your search. Thank you for taking so much time to correct the information :)

Regarding Google, it's remarkably inaccurate here in China if you search in English.

It's much more reliable and accurate if you search in Chinese Characters. I have no idea why this inaccuracy occurs, but it probably has something to do with Google's search algorithm and the 4 tones associated with the Chinese language. In Mandarin, He1, He2, He3, and He4 all sound different, but people usually omit the tones and just write He. Therefore, Henan is actually He2nan2, but it's just marked as Henan in most US maps. There could actually be many places names Henan but with different tones. For example, hypothetically, there could be He1nan1, He1nan2, etc. If you use Chinese characters, this problem is automatically solved which results in a much more accurate search.

I wish I had followed up with you earlier. It would have helped you find Guoliang more easily. On the other hand, it seems like you did get to see a lot of China through Google Maps. There is also a Chinese website called Baidu which provides accurate maps as well, but you'd have to have knowledge of Mandarin to successfully navigate the site.

Anyway, I hope this helps explain why you had such a hard time with Google. Thank you again for your efforts. Best of wishes.

Regards, Suhan

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

I uncovered some very interesting tidbits about Guoliang during my 2009 research.  For example, several blogs indicated Guoliang came to the attention of the modern world thanks to Chinese filmmakers.

The road soon cuts directly into the side of the vertical gorge.  This feat was apparently achieved by 12 men over 6 years, before this the only access to the plateau above was by an extremely scary path called the Sky Stair.  Owing to this, the old villages are largely unspoiled, leading to GL becoming a very popular set for Chinese films looking for authentic locations to use rather than build sets of 土esteryear.  Some 80% of the inhabitants have been used as extras at some point. 

Another blog suggested this area was used by the Chinese army in World War II as a place to escape the Japanese invasion and prepare for a counter-attack.

One question that remains a mystery is Xiyagou, the parallel universe city.  Now that I have a feel for distance, I estimate that Xiyagou is probably less than 10 miles further south of Guoliang.  What connection do these two villages have?  Why do they both have similar tunnels?   I never found an answer to this question. 

Several blogs pointed out that this area has been developed as a geo-park.  As you can see from the pictures, this area is very lovely.  In addition, new hotels are springing up all over the area.  Something good is happening here.  In every picture I see of Guoliang, the place appears overrun with tourists.

Not only is the place swarming with tourists, if the rumors can be believed, eighty percent of the residents regularly appear in movies as well!  

From a forgotten outpost on the very edge of the world back in the 1970s, Guoliang has obviously come a long, long way in just forty years.

Imagine how popular Guoliang would be if people could just find the darn place! 

If you have read my story carefully, you have to agree the entire planet outside of China clearly has no idea where Guoliang is located!   I still find it hard to believe that I found a half-dozen placemarks on Google Maps and Google Earth that are completely wrong. 

I have no explanation why there are so many mistakes.  What would cause so many people to get it wrong?  I suppose people typed in 'Guoliang' and came up with various other spots.  However, why were they so sure of themselves?  Why didn't they bother to double-check their work for accuracy?  Furthermore, why did so many people transpose Guoliang with Xiyagou? 

Guoliang clearly needs a better publicist.  One good web site complete with a map would do wonders for this place! 

I suppose that until a professional comes along, I guess my web site will have to do the trick.

You might wonder why I dedicated several days of my life to finding and then documenting this missing village in the middle of nowhere.  After all, I have absolutely no connection to Guoliang whatsoever. 

If you accept the Hindu Principle of Karma, I felt I had a Karmic Debt to this place.  Thanks to my Hunan-Henan mistake back in early 2007, I realized I was quite likely the major reason the true location of this place has been obscured for nearly three years.

Then when I realized that no one else on the Internet seemed to know where this place was, I felt a compelling urge to clear up my original mistake here.  Once I have discovered the entire planet can't seem to find the right place, I felt it was my duty to set things right. 

Besides the mystery of Xiyagou, I guess my other confusion is to understand why it was so hard for me to find the correct location.  I am no genius, but I am computer-literate enough to know how to collect a vast amount of information.  Yet despite all my research, my discovery of the true Guoliang location came down to three hours of zoom in/zoom out hunt and peck on Google Earth.  Why did it have to be that difficult?

As you can see, I raised many questions along the way.  If anyone of you have information to share, by all means, feel free to comment. 

Thank you very much for reading.  Maybe I will see you in Guoliang sometime... now that everyone knows where it is!

Rick Archer
October 2009
dance@ssqq.com

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