CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (12/23/2019 Mon.)

CHINA

Podcast: Story in the Story (12/23/2019 Mon.)

People's Daily app

01:54, December 23, 2019

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From the People's Daily App.

This is Story in the Story.

On December 15, 1954, the Sichuan-Tibet Highway opened, marking the beginning of the Sichuan-Tibet mail line.  And this year, it was announced that the country will establish a complete and efficient management system for rural road maintenance by 2035.

China aims to include all rural highways in the maintenance list, and the annual average proportion of maintenance projects would not be less than 5 percent by 2020.

The country called for high-quality development in rural road construction and deep reform to ensure that such construction meshes with the causes of fighting poverty, the rural vitalization strategy, and agricultural modernization.

More efforts will also be made to increase financial support with better supervision of funds and speed up market-oriented reform for the maintenance of rural highways.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at how highway development has helped the postal service deliver mail and packages to those living in the country’s rural areas.  

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Qimeiduoji in his mail truck (Photo: China Post)

Qimeiduoji is something of a legend along the Sichuan-Tibet Road on the plateau.

For three decades, he has driven a mail truck to deliver mail between Garze and Dege, the Tibetan counties in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

He drives on the snow line at an average altitude of 3,500 meters and has traveled 1.4 million kilometers in total.

He never had a traffic accident on the road, but he has experienced and survived several perils.

"When I was a kid, there were a few vehicles on the high plateau. Besides those of the military, we could only see mail trucks," Qimaduoji, 56, said. 

"In my hometown, the first newspaper and my letter of admission to technical school were both sent by postmen. Whenever seeing mail trucks, people waved their hands to greet them."

The only mail truck called for a reliable driver. Qimeiduoji was recommended. He could not only drive but also fix the vehicle. Perhaps most importantly, his good personality was famous among Dege residents. 

Since 1988, the only mail truck in Dege always has Qimeiduoji behind the wheel. 

In 1998, he volunteered to move to Garze, about 500 kilometers from Dege, and take the task of the long-trip snow line route. "I would accept everything, as long as I could drive the mail truck," he said.

The mail routes from Garze to other counties climb over mountains covered with snow all year-round. The most dangerous and highest is the Que'er Mountain, 6,168 meters above sea level.

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Que'er Mountain in Southwest China's Sichuan Province (Photo: VCG)

He picked the route between Garze and Dege, which is the highest and most precipitous mail road in China. In winter, temperatures can reach -30 C, and he had to set off at 6 am. Sometimes, the diesel would be frozen.

"You look outside. There's only the eagle in the sky and the mail truck on the ground," he said while driving through an abyss of snow.

In the summer, dust and pebbles constantly roll from the cliffs. Many types of wreckage could be spotted at the bottom of the valley.

In 2000, Qimeiduoji and a colleague encountered an avalanche. To keep the mail truck in decent condition, they used barrels and shovels to clear the road. It took two days to move one single kilometer. 

Qimeiduoji's two sons are both post employees. However, his elder son died suddenly before his wedding in 2011, devastating his fiancee.

A year later, he was driving from Qingbaijiang to Garze, to deliver textbooks for primary and high schools in Garze. 

One day, more than 10 robbers with knives and sticks stopped his truck. The assailants surrounded him.

He was alone. His first priority was protecting the truck. So, he jumped off the truck to confront the robbers. He was stabbed 17 times. His four ribs were broken, and his skull was fractured. 

Three months after surgery, his left hand was rendered useless.  He was forced to retire.

He did not give up and tried every opportunity to get back on the road. 

An old doctor told him to break the stiff muscles and let them grow again. He did, with great pain, but after two months, the miracle came - his left hand recovered its function.

"The mail truck is my second lover. How could I give up?" Qimeiduoji said. When he started the ignition, he felt as if his deceased son and former self had returned.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe and Paris Yelu Xu. Music by bensound.com. Text from Global Times and China Daily.) 

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