Starting mid-September, Liang Chengli, also known as “Doomsday Sister”, amazed Sohu Weibo users with her pictures and accounts of life on a mountain in Sichuan preparing for the end of the world.
In an interview with Southern Metropolis Daily, Liang explained that she was originally from Sichuan but came to Dongguan to work when she was young. Precociously talented, she got a job as a light engineer for a very famous company.
In September this year, she heard about the widespread belief that the Mayans had predicted the world would end on December 21, 2012. For reasons that she didn’t explain, she saw credibility in the claim and and on September 21 decided to be proactive about preparing for it.
She quit her lucrative and stable job to return to her hometown in Sichuan to ‘live away from a big city and build an ark.’
Along with her cousin she returned to her native Dazhou in Sichuan Province where there was a village called Yongsheng that boasted lots of mountains where she could build a hideaway.
She came to the public’s attention when she uploaded pictures of herself on Sohu Weibo on a mountain wearing only leaves and living primitively. Over a period of almost three months, followers of her microblog saw pictures and read accounts of how she had bought enough instant noodles and biscuits to last for months, and she was growing her own food and occasionally inviting villagers to bring her vegetables she could cook.
She also showed pictures of a small bamboo ark she had built with the help of villagers.
In this time, the number of followers of her microblog skyrocketed from 0 to 60,000 but there was much suspicion that the whole thing was a hoax. Her leaf dresses appeared to have been put together with more skill than she is likely to have had and the photos were of such quality that they were probably taken with a camera that was beyond the price range of anybody in the village.
Moreover, some of the pictures contained images of her company’s products, causing some netizens to accuse her of being part of an elaborate publicity stunt.
Maintaining that she was genuine, Liang used her microblog to invite a suitable male to join her and repopulate the Earth after doomsday. Needless to say, there were plenty of offers.
But then on December 17, Liang abruptly gave up and returned to her job in Dongguan. Two days later, she uploaded a video to her microblog in which she confessed to having been naive. She told people to “believe in science” and assured us that the world wouldn’t end.
She maintains that it wasn’t a hoax, saying that the whole thing had made no difference to the popularity of the company anyway.