BEIJING, March 19 (UPI) -- A Chinese man who was formerly one of the 30 million people in the country who live in caves said he plans to return to cave-dwelling when he retires.
Ren Shouhua, a middle-aged man who said he moved out of his cave on the outskirts of Yanan, China, when he obtained a job in the city in his 20s, said there are many benefits to cave life and he plans to return to a cave when he retires, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
"It's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It's quiet and safe," Ren said. "When I get old, I'd like to go back to my roots."
He said many of the caves, which house about 30 million people in China, are reinforced with brick masonry and many even have electricity and running water.
"Most aren't so fancy, but I've seen some really beautiful caves: high ceilings and spacious with a nice yard out front where you can exercise and sit in the sun," Ren said.
Many of the Chinese cave-dwellers are in Shaanxi province, which contains many cliffs of porous soil that make cave digging an easy and cost-effective housing option.
"The cave topology is one of the earliest human architectural forms; there are caves in France, in Spain, people still living in caves in India," said David Wang, an architecture professor at Washington State University in Spokane who has written widely on the subject. "What is unique to China is the ongoing history it has had over two millenniums."