Blow Your House Down

Longshan's residents are not given to complaining, though they inhabit one of the world's most inhospitable corners. Here, in this frozen stretch of wasteland in Heilongjiang province on the Chinese side of Siberia, the scenery is so desolate that its most notable features are heaps of coal piled so high they look like mountains. Many of the townspeople are laid-off coal miners, hopelessly cut off from the fruits of China's heralded economic boom. Still, hardship has taught them not to gripe about their lot in life. "What pleasant weather we're having," says the local bathhouse owner, ignoring that it's 30 degrees...

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