The Xinhua Bookstore, where classic literary works by Chinese and foreign
writers (their translations) are mostly available, and so are books on computer know-how, popular sci-tech, medicine, personal hygiene, cooking,
English learning and others. Poems by Walt Whitman and novels by Ernest Hemingway have been among the bestsellers. The bookstore mainly targets the
middlebrows and school students. The town, with a population of 45,000
or a little more, about 10% of the whole county�s, boasts three comprehensive
high schools, and 85% of the senior students have annually been admitted to college
through the fiercely competitive national exams. English is taught as early as elementary
school, even in some kindergartens. In the town�s middle and high schools, English as one of the key subjects/courses is strictly
tested (on paper) for school/college entrance. All the English teachers are college graduates.
The Telecommunications Agency and Post Office. Over 90% of the households
in the town (and nearly 20% in the countryside) are phone-connected, locally, nationally and globally. Most salaried people and businesspersons
are equipped with pagers and mobile phones. Some of the local institutions and enterprises have access to the Internet.
The Commercial Bank, which has attracted considerable amounts of savings
remitted back home by Wanzai people doing odd jobs far away in some highly developed big cities and provinces. Almost every family in Wanzai has at
least one member working outside, because employment chances are relatively scarce at the hometown, and many farmers can�t support the family by
tilling the soil. The current average monthly salary in Wanzai is 650 yuan (about US$80), one half of this amount paying for daily food and housing.
Many workers have been laid off these years and have to seek fortune on their own. If someone in Wanzai wishes to save big money, he/she has to do
business, to work outside, or to be a powerful official.
A clear brook � Longhe, or Dragon River -- running through the town
(into the Jinjiang River) with green trees/gardening and modern buildings lining both sides. The longer
Jinjiang River edges along the northwest part of the town. The name Wanjin has been derived from Wanzai�s
Jinjiang. Literally In Chinese, "Wanzai" means "10,000 years" while
"Jinjiang" indicates "a splendid/beautiful river."
The recently refurbished Wan Fo Monastery (Wan Fo means 10,000 budhas), built 420 years ago, located in the old downtown.
An old busy street for peddlers� stalls, restaurants, haircutting/dressing parlors, home goods mending, and many others.
Newly developed residential areas. Those who have made big money
outside, in the town or in the rural areas are entitled to buy houses here.
Many rural farmer parvenus have recently become town dwellers, fulfilling their long dream of getting away from the soil.
The Baota Lu, or Pagoda Road, located here are the Wanzai
County Government institutions, a new large bookstore, a culture lyceum, a top hotel and some companies. The 600-year-old pagoda in the distance is
regarded as the symbol of Wanzai County, like the Statue of Liberty for New York City.
The natural lakes 2~3 km northwest of the town. Wanzai, a
1714 sq.km mountainous county, is dotted with numerous lakes like these and crisscrossed with watercourses, natural or man-made.
Green paddy fields, blue bamboo hills, and babbling
streams with cows/buffaloes grazing the grassy banks and beaches. And
there are quite a few nature reserves or deep primeval forests 25~35 km north of
the town. On sunny and clear days, people in the town can see with the naked eye the serrate ranges of the high mountains and its pointed peaks, like
extensive screens profiled against the distant sky horizon.
A gateway to downtown. On the horizontal boards are written "Wanzai Ethos � Diligent Exploring and Pragmatic Working."