It's May Day 2013. Friends gather at my place in Zunyi for the long weekend. The choice to get together here is coincidental, but appropriate, given Zunyi's importance to the Communist history of the People's Republic.
On our second day we decided to take a day trip to one of the most important medieval archaeological sites in China. A couple of long bus rides later, a Chinese cougar in tow who did her best to woo one of my buddies (the guy in the left in the photo), we arrive at the base of the mountain fortress called Hailongtun (海龙屯城堡).
Located on Longyan Mountain, it's a famous place, but one rarely visited by foreigners because of its remote location in Guizhou. In 1600, after months of warfare, nearly 22,000 people, including women and children, were executed here by Ming Dynasty soldiers and thrown from the precipice of the fortress into the ravine below. Built in 1257 by Yang Shi, the place had been the fortress of the local rulers, who had self-governed the region for nearly 700 years.
The one entrance to the fortress is a steep and treacherous stairway, slanted downward with huge landings so that horses could make their way up. The views from the top are spectacular.
Take the climb, visit the ruins, and hear the ghosts of China's past.