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Take the Train to Tibet

Take the Train to Tibet

I had always enjoyed travelling and prided myself with being a bit of a globe-trotter. But it was only after my revealing trip to Tibet that I could actually say I had traveled. And maybe the most amazing part of my journey is that I went to Tibet by train via the Qinghai-Tibet railway. Here’s my story:

Before I set sail (or rather, as it would be more true to historical truth to say, I boarded the train) to Tibet, honestly all I knew of Tibet came from Brad Pitt’s movie “Seven Years in Tibet”. I had indeed traveled, but never outside the comfortable confines of Western civilization, in places where there was Wi-Fi everywhere, fast-food chains and more or less similar architecture and pop culture customs. Tibet was of another world, definitely a life-changing experience.

But let me tell you how it all started: Usually, (post-)modern trips start in an airport, boarding to take flight to a more or less exotic destination. Not my adventure. Since it was supposed to be something different from the start and I was actually recovering from a near-death experience when my plane almost crashed in the Alps (long story), I took the train to Tibet via the newly established Qinghai-Tibet railway.

With an average elevation of almost 5000 km, just East of the magnificently imposing Himalayas, Tibet is the highest region in the world, which in turn makes Qinghai-Tibet the railway with the highest altitude on the Globe. I knew the train ride would take much longer than the few hours’ flight, but I knew I had the most amazing, unique landscapes I had ever seen before to keep me company and interested all the way. The railway took me to the most fascinating mountain regions.

You can travel from Beijing, Chengdu or Shanghai to Lhasa (to give just a few examples). The journey takes around 50 hours, and while it may sound a bit scary at first, the service is impeccable, the professionalism of the staff amazing and I barely felt tired. Tibet is a wonderful, wild and spiritual land, one steeped in history. Today part of the Republic of China, it still preserves its autonomy and especially its fascinating culture, traditions and habits. It is the quintessence and magic of Asia.

Suffice it to say that the place, the air, the timelessness and the people changed my life forever. To think it all began on board a train to Tibet via the Qinghai-Tibet railway…

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