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The Modern Day Neanderthal – 30 Million Chinese Living in Caves

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 Modern Day Chinese Living in Caves


Many people from afar think of China as the next best home in modern-day society. Cities like Beijing and Hong Kong spare ideas that China is so modernized that no other society in the world could catch up to it.


But for those that have never been to the remote regions of China it is unforeseen what unfolds right before their very eyes.




Today the modern day Neanderthal is something which is common place in rural China, as today over 30 million people live in caves, caverns and holes dug out in hillsides. The hobbit societies of China are extreme, and they are nothing to do with modern age or related to those wanting to live a recluse lifestyle.


Today it is a way of life for many in this rising 1st world country.


To give scope to the thought of 30 million people in caves, the entire population of Canada has just over 30 million people living in it full time, so put that to comparison as to how many people are living in the hills of remote China.


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In another comparison, China has by far more people than any other country in the world.


A large portion of China is sparsely populated, forcing those remaining 100’s of millions into the regions in, on or around the populated cities.


These caves, called ‘yaodong are homes to cave dwellers in and around the Shaanxi Province due to the soil being conductive to digging. Not only are some of these caved and dug homes in remote areas, but they are often nested in groupings, much like a village or sprayed throughout a mountainside or cliff.





Some people who are born and raised in the region of Shaanxi call this their home and learn to live a full life, living in caverns. Many stay due to cost, some stay because it’s a form of style, and others stay because they have no other place to go.


Rents in China have escalated out of control, forcing thousands to flee to the provincial mountains regions and many to dig, share or erect their own cave life here.


Today modern cities like Bejing or Shanghi, rents can run several thousands of dollars a month, but in the hills, rents can often cost $30 a month on average for small dwellings.


For those living a natural, holistic lifestyle, the caves of Northern China are idea and many are turning to this region for their summer get-away. Something that once was part of the Buddhist lifestyle is now turning into a modern day trending lifestyle.


The carbon footprint of today is near non-existent to the reality of living in a large city in China or elsewhere in the world.





This of course  leads into the fact that China’s growing population of poor is rising too, forcing many to live the cave life. The caves are idea for those with little or no money as the living spaces are well insulated for heating and very cool from the deep earth they are cut into.


The one surprising fact is that they are often resilient to natural disasters such as earthquakes; though in the past China had several massive earthquakes that shattered entire regions of cave dwellers, especially around the Shaanxi Province.


In retrospect, the danger is no less than those living in high rises clumped together with smog and heavily polluted regions and still in danger of earthquake collapse and death.






Though the cave life isn’t for everyone, some people come to the province of China and build elaborate structures, some with running water, brick walls, electricity and multiple bedrooms.


In the poorer structures many sleep on stone beds known as ‘kang’, why do they do this you ask? Because once again the stones  are very cool in the summer and the bed has a unique hollowed out center under them to put fire, warming the bed for a comfortable sleep.



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The remains of Shaanxi Province and others like it, prove the resilient lifestyle of Chinese people and long historic path. Today the youths of these regions flee to the cities and heavily populated region in search of modern day riches.


A tour of these regions will easy show you the elders of the cave life are some of the only remaining people still in existence here.





The modern day Neanderthal cave life is here and alive and waiting for you. Some come due to money, a few drop in for a tour from time to time and for the rest they come to the remote regions of China to live a life of peace, harmony and above all, love…………. for themselves and for the world around them.






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Timothy Walker is a writer and photographer living in Davao City, Philippines
Timothy Walker is a writer and photographer living in Davao City, Philippines









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