For residents of the Muli Tibetan Autonomous County in southwest Sichuan Province, seeing a man riding a pony loaded with mail parcels walking silently on the snow-covered plateau is one of the most welcoming sights.
Wang Shunyou delivers mail with his pony. [File photo]
Wang Shunyou, of Miao ethnicity, was born in Muli County in 1965. Every year, he delivers around 8,000 newspapers, 700 magazines, 1,500 letters and 600 packages to local residents.
Over the past two decades, Wang has traveled more than 260,000 kilometers to deliver mail, equivalent to circumventing the globe six times.
Muli County is located in the southeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The altitude of Wang's mail route ranges from about 1,000 to 5,000 meters above sea level.
In 1984, when the 19-year-old Wang inherited his father's mail delivery job in his mountain-locked hometown, his father told him, "Delivering mail is working for the [Communist] Party. People who work for the Party should be able to bear hardship." From then on, Wang has dedicated himself to the "pony express."
Conditions on Wang's route vary drastically. He passes through the Cha'erwa Mountain area, nearly 5000 meters high, covered by ice and snow six months out of the year, with temperatures often reaching -10 degrees celsius or lower. He also descends to the Yalong River Valley, where the temperature can rise to a sweltering 40 degrees or higher.