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World's Most Dangerous Roads: China's Guoliang Tunnel

June 14, 2007 at 4:43 PM | by | Comments (0)

The next time you feel underappreciated and overworked sitting in a beige metal box all day, sneaking e-mails to friends and reading travel blogs, remember the parable of the Guoliang Tunnel:

Back in the 70s, when our parents were taking horrific photographs with feathered perms and mustaches for which we would later mock them, a group of 13 men in the Chinese village of Guoliang in the Taihang Mountains sat down to figure out how to get to the village on the other side of the enormous hill blocking the way.

The solution: dig through it -- manually. The men sold goats and herbs to buy hammers and steel tools. After five years, they had dug a 4,000-foot tunnel. It measures 16 feet high by 13 feet wide. About 30 "windows" look out over the 90-degree drop. The sight overwhelmed one traveler:

I was deeply moved and even wanted to cry, for the sacred Guoliang Tunnel and for what the villagers have done - to triumph over nature.

Although this statement appeared in China Daily, so we're not vouching for its authenticity.

The tunnel is in Southwest Beijing, close to the city of Xinxiang.

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·World's Most Dangerous Roads [Jaunted]

[Photo: thrillingwonder]

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World's Most Dangerous Roads: Bolivia's Road of Death

Where: Bolivia
June 13, 2007 at 11:12 AM | by | Comment (1)

Since summer trip driving season is about to go into full swing we figured why not take a look at the world's most dangerous roads. Know a road rage inducing strip of asphalt that puts normal highways to shame? Send it along.

Do you really need any more evidence than the above video to prove that this road belongs on the World's Most Dangerous Roads list?

Every year, 200 to 300 people die along a stretch of dirt road less than 50 miles. Locals know The North Yungas Road, as El Camino de la Muerte, or "Road of Death." Packed buses regularly plunge off cliffsides. The 43-mile road leads northeast from the La Paz to Coroico, in the Yungas region of Bolivia. Along the way, it winds up and down through the Andes Mountains.

First, the road ascends to a nausea-inducing elevation of over three miles, before plunging down to a height of 1,079 feet. Stop for a minute before the descent -- as long as no cars are coming -- to glimpse an untouched mountain landscape.

Travelers, many of whom must maneuver tractor trailers and buses, contend with sharp dropoffs (with no guardrails to break the fall) and single-lane width. Frequent rain and fog reduce visibility, make the road surface muddy, and loosen rocks from the hillsides above.

Extreme mountain bikers have taken to riding the stretch of road, dodging diesel trucks and jumping roadblocks. Let's just hope they wear their helmets.

Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking runs mountain biking tours on the road, definitely a summer vacation with an edge if you attempt it.

Related Stories:
World's Most Dangerous Roads [Jaunted]

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World's Most Dangerous Roads: Siberian Mud Pirate Highway

June 12, 2007 at 11:04 AM | by | Comments (0)

Since summer trip driving season is about to go into full swing we figured why not take a look at the world's most dangerous roads. Know road rage inducing strip of asphalt that puts normal highways to shame? Send it along.

The Russian Federal Highway connects Moscow to Yakutsk.

The coldest temperatures ever recorded outside Antarctica was recorded near Yakutsk. Yakutsk is also the largest city built on continuous permafrost. Most houses are built on concrete piles because of the frozen ground. What does all this have to do with being one of the world's most dangerous roads?

During the winter, which is approximately ten months long, driving in and out of Yakutsk is subject to heavy snow, ice, and reduced visibility. However, winter road conditions are a picnic compared to trying to navigate the Russian Federal Highway on July and August.

Though many Siberian residents will tell you the highway is not paved to keep the Germans out (a tired World War II era joke), the truth is because of the permafrost there is no asphalt, creating a mud induced traffic jam every time the summer rains swing Yakutsk's way.

Near thousand car traffic jams are not unheard of and during these back ups and travelers might pass the time while stuck in Siberian traffic by looting, beating, and kidnapping other travelers. Siberian mud pirates. And we thought everyone got all Lord of the Flies when the Holland Tunnel gets backed up.

It isn't all danger and mud up on the Russian Federal Highway.

Check out the map video of some locals off-roading on the snowy highway.

Related Stories:
World's Most Dangerous Roads [Jaunted]

[Photo: ssqq]