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hina is known as the country with the biggest population in the world. With almost 1.4 billion people (making up 18% of the world’s population) you would imagine that the country is pretty crowded, however, within this beautiful country with many bustling cities there are some villages that have been forgotten by the world and sort of secluded from society.

However, in most cases, it’s the villages and the villagers within them that seclude themselves from society in their attempt to protect their simple life from being negatively impacted by technological advancements or other modern influences.

The village with only one inhabitant

The same idea applies to Liu Shenhija who in 2006 chose to remain in the village he was born when everyone else chose to relocate. The village is located in the Nothern China’s Gansu Province named Xueshan Commune of Songbai Village.

Liu Shenhija’s house from the village (Source: CEN)

Back in the early 2000s, the village used to house over 20 families as the village presented no future for their children. The village is so remote that the closest shop is about 20 miles away and there is barely any phone signal in the area.

As the village is located deep in the mountains the lifestyle is very difficult. Most of the people that lived in the village were either farmers or shepherds who simply lived off the land as there were no jobs around or close enough to the village. Even so, due to the rocky terrain, it is very difficult to get to the village.

Many villages are suffering from the same issue within China and that is why most villagers prefer to either relocate to a village that is closer to “civilization” or simply move to the city.

Liu’s choice to not leave the village with the rest in 2006 wasn’t really his choice as he had his hands tied by his ill mother and brother who were stuck in bed without being able to travel.

Until 2010, life wasn’t so bad for Liu as he had the company of his mother and brother, however in 2010 they both passed away, leaving Liu alone in the village. He was so used to the simple life brought by the village that he never wanted to leave it behind.

Coping with loneliness

The reporters who interviewed him in 2016 said that at first, it was very difficult for him to get used to being alone, especially at night as the wolves would howl around the village. To cope with the loneliness he got some sheep and a dog for company.

Most of the houses within the village have collapsed or are on the brink of collapsing (Source: CEN)

In 2011, during a storm, the roof of his house collapsed, therefore he moved into a different house within the village. He said that it doesn’t matter, the village has been abandoned so he feels that what has been left behind is under his possession. To be fair it’s not like those who left the village care about the old houses or whatever was left behind.

The only human connection he has with someone is when he goes to the nearest shop or market to sell some of his sheep. He buys some supplies from the nearest store, but he can live off the land with no problem. As he is the only person in the area the government offered him a job as local forest protector where he has to make sure no one goes around chopping down trees illegally.

From this job, he earns 700 yuan ($100 dollars) a month. Money isn’t really important to him as he does not have much to spend it on, nor does he want to be rich.

Besides all the material things around him, you can see from his eyes how being alone for so many years on end has affected him.

“Apart from family no one else matters”

Liu Shenhija

This is a man who sees life as being very simple and who understood solitude for what it is. Due to this pandemic, most of us got a taste of solitude, for some more bitter than others. Liu teaches us important lessons from the frugal life he has been living for the past 11 years.

It is more about being spiritually accomplished rather than accomplishing something in his life. We are all working towards making a name for ourselves but we sometimes forget to actually live life for what it is.

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