Early on a morning in late May,when I boarded the plane boundfrom Beijing to Nanning City,capital of the Guangxi ZhuangAutonomous Region, most Beijing officeworkers were on the way to their place ofbusiness. I expected fewer passengers, but,to my surprise, the plane was fully booked.
Among those passengers, a group ofmiddle-aged women caught my attention.They talked with one another in southerndialect. One sat next to me, and we begana conversation. She said her surname wasHuang. She had the features of southernChinese people: sun-tanned skin, a broadmouth and slight of build.
Ms. Huang explained in nonstandardmandarin that she and her 11 partners justcompleted a sightseeing trip to Beijing.They all came from Guangxi's Qinzhou,which happened to be my destination. Thecity of Qinzhou borders Guangdong Prov-ince, so the local dialect is Cantonese. Infact, Qinzhou was historically under the ju-risdiction of Guangdong Province, and wasput under Guangxi's administration soonafter liberation.
Ms. Huang's family earns a living culti-vating oysters. Their oysters sell well, andannually the family earns 60,000 to 70,000yuan. "The oyster has strict requirements forhabitat. The ocean nearby the Qinzhou Bayis peaceful and unpolluted, thus offering anideal environment for oyster cultivation,"Ms. Huang said with pride. "Usually it takestwo or three years for an oyster to mature.The preferential environment will undoubt-edly lead to a good harvest, only if you arecareful in oyster cultivation." Ms. Huangand her partners spent eight days in Beijing."Beijing is so big. Though crowded, it is aplace worth visiting. When I'm back home,I'll persuade my husband to visit the city athis leisure."
Three hours later, our airplane landed atthe Nanning Airport. A light rain made theair clear and humid. I took a bus to Qinzhou,a city about 100 kilometers from Nanning.Along the expressway were lush boscages.I couldn't believe the place was historicallycalled the "land of infertility in the south."In ancient times, some demoted officialswould be expelled from the capital to thisremote place. However, many of them fellin love with the place soon after settlingthere. In his letter to his friend in the capital,an expelled official wrote that "My buddy!If you feel uncomfortable in the capital, youcan apply to work in the south, for the cli-mate here is pleasant."