Located on the Tibetan Plateau, southwest China, Tibet has an area of 122,000 sq km. It stands 4000m above sea level, and therefore is regarded as the ridge of the roof of the world. In early 20th century, Dr Sun Yat Sen proposed to build a railway to Lasa. But the dream to have a railway to Tibet was not realized until a century later, when the Qingzang Railway commenced service in 2006. The railway is the world's highest and longest railway built on a plateau. 965 km of the total route is built 4000m above sea level, with the peak located at Tanggula Mountain, 5072m above sea level. The Qingzang Railway is the world's longest plateau railway which runs through a permafrost area. In this episode, we are going to take the railway to Tibet to understand its culture.

The Qingzang Railway begins in Qinghai Province, where Qinghai Lake is located. The water has existed since more than 200 million years ago, and has become an inland lake due to vigourous orogeny. In the past thirty years, the change of environment has brought about a decrease in the surface area of the lake. Its annual average loss equals the size of West Lake in Hangzhou. If we do not start preserving it, it can only live in our memory in the future.

After Ge'ermu Station, the train has to climb Tanggula Mountain, 5000m above sea level. Since ordinary engines cannot provide enough power in such an alpine and anoxic region, they have to be replaced with an American engine NJ2, which is a 4000hp engine installed with electronic diesel injection system designed to work under such adverse conditions.

Having passed Tanggula Mountain, the train soon reaches Naqu, 4500m above sea level. Naqu is one of the highest towns in China. It is regarded as the ridge of the ridge of the world. In Biru County, Naqu, there is a unique sky burial site, the Skeleton Wall, in Damuer Temple. In most sky burial practices, none of the body parts should be preserved; the whole body was offered to vultures. But Damuer Temple began to keep the skull since about 130 years ago to build a skeleton wall. While the reasons behind the practice are unknown, a sky burial master once commented that using skulls to build could remind the living that no matter who we were, after we died, we were nothing.

Visiting Lasa for pilgrimage is the dream of many Tibetan people. Some of them perform kneeling prostrations every two or three steps while they go - this can take them several months or several years to reach Lasa. In the next episode, our presenter Rannes Man is going to visit the sacred land of Tibet, Lasa, to look for the treasure there.
30 minutes
USD 412.00