Couple creates self-sufficient love nest

Couple creates self-sufficient love nest
Tang Guanhua and Xing Zhen enjoy a romantic breakfast in the yard. The couple resigned from their city jobs and started to experiment with self-sustaining ways of life with the help of friends in an area in Laoshan Mountain.

Do you live on your own?

Twenty-five-year-old Tang Guanhua and his wife Xing Zhen answer by injecting new meaning to the phrase. They have created a self-sustaining home in Laoshan Mountain, Qingdao, in Shandong province, where most, if not all, of their daily necessities are self made with natural materials.

"Since I was in university, I have always dreamed of living with my beloved on our own, with as little effect as possible upon the environment," Tang says, "then I met Xing and we made it into a plan."

The couple started preparations soon after falling in love. In 2011 the lovers displayed some of their skills, like cutting their own hair and making soap from plants, in an exhibition.

The pair resigned from their well-paid jobs as an advertising designer and securities analyst, and after selecting an area in Laoshan Mountain started to experiment with self-sustaining ways of life with the help of friends.

In order to achieve their ambition "you need to master some necessary skills that are not easily seen in daily urban life," Xing says, giving examples such as making concrete and soap by hand.

They used the former material to build their two-storey cabin, which has three rooms on each floor, and which Tang says he feels proud of and is always willing to share with guests.

The couple refuses to call their humble home an invention because the techniques used to build it date back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). "They used the technology to build the Great Wall," Tang says, outstretching his hand, which is rough with calluses, "all it takes is some sand, clay, and hard work mixed with sweat."

The handmade soap and some other self-made products are sold online to support the couple's cost of living and to help maintain their website,, which details their experiences. They also use the soap themselves for bathing - which is "not as frequent as in cities", due to the lack of water, Tang jokes.

"The only ground water source lies in a pool from a small stream about 50 meters away," Xing explains, adding that it is an unstable supply as it depends on rainfall.

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