The lakeside town of Laozishan in eastern China is surrounded by water on three sides. Spread out around Hongze Lake, Laozishan covers an area of 300 square kilometers but has only 16,000 residents. More than 7,000 of the townsfolk live on boats and earn their living from fish breeding.
Tang Zhenya delivers mail on Hongze Lake.
Tang Zhenya, a mailman in the town, uses a rowing boat to deliver letters and newspapers. Sometimes he has to row as far as 40 kilometers to deliver the mail.
Back in 2008, it was calculated that Tang had traveled 180,000 kilometers on land and water, delivering some 668,000 newspapers and magazines and 28,500 letters, without ever making a mistake.
47-year-old Tang's commitment to his work has won him a high reputation among local people. He is also a loyal member of the Communist Party.
Every day Tang rises before dawn to sort the mail. In the morning he delivers letters to addresses on land by bicycle. In the afternoon, he sets off in his boat to deliver mail around the lake.
Hongze Lake is difficult to navigate. In places it is only 20 centimeters deep. So although the local government gave Tang Zhenya a motor boat in 2005, he still uses a small rowing boat. Even using this small boat he sometimes has to get out and wade, pushing the boat in front of him, often for an hour or more. Sometimes, when he goes to a faraway village or encounters bad weather, he has to stay overnight on one of the fishermen's boats. But he still has to get back to the post office in the early morning or the next day's deliveries will be delayed.