China 2007 (part VI): Beijing-Lhasa Train

Beijing-Lhasa Train:

yaks on the Tibetan Plateau

yaks on the Tibetan Plateau

One of the greatest experiences I ever had was the epic railway journey from Beijing to Lhasa. The train left in the late evening and reached Xian in the early morning (for a map see here). The landscape around this city famous for its Terracotta Army is characterized by the Loess Plateau. Rainfall is scarce and signs of erosion of the precious soil were abundant. Throughout the day, the countryside became less densely populated and at nightfall we passed Xining. I woke up early in the morning to witness the train entering the Tibetan Plateau south of Golmud. Now the altitude was already several thousand metres and the land was more and more rugged. The highest point of the journey is the Tanggula Pass at an altitude of 5072 m! Even now in the middle of May, snow was falling outside and I feared for the weather in Lhasa. Due to the height, oxygen masks were distributed to the passengers to avoid altitude sickness. The train still had many hours to go across the plateau with its vast and seemingly endless vistas. Outside nomads were living in their tents and yaks were grazing together with wild antelopes, while inside the train you could eat your meals in the comfort of the dining car. At the end of the day and after a number of short stops at local railway stations, the train approached Lhasa allowing the first view of the mighty Potala Palace dominating the city.

Of course, the train journey was only the start of great experiences in Lhasa, the “place of the gods”, but this is covered in the following post! 🙂

14 responses to “China 2007 (part VI): Beijing-Lhasa Train

  1. Pingback: China 2007 (part V) | wild life·

  2. Wonderful photos of an amazing place! Thank you, I’m sure I will never get to see that in person. I wish the Chinese would ease their relations with the Tibetans. Mention the Dalai Lama while you’re there and you might get into serious trouble!

  3. Pingback: China 2007 (part VII) | wild life·

  4. surely this train journey is one of its kind traveling through the Tibetan plateau. The laying of this line in its is considered to be a modern marvel given the tough terrain over which its travels!…..someday probably!!

  5. Really wonderful, Matthias! You inspire me to travel to China and see more of that wonderful country. So far I have just been to Hong Kong and that is faaar from this experience…

    • thank you!! 🙂 … China has a lot to offer with its big cities, culture, cuisine etc, but unfortunately also many environmental problems!! Nevertheless, once you have the chance to see some of its unspoiled landscapes, it is really great!! 🙂

  6. Pingback: China 2015 (part VIII) | wild life·

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