I first set foot in Tibet in 2005, when I was 18 years old. My connection with Tibet stemmed from an occasional opportunity. I saw a TV program about tourism in Tibet, and I was deeply attracted to the blue sky, green grasslands, flocks of yaks and sheep, and the snowy mountains in the distance, as well as the local people singing joyful songs and taking their animals to graze. I was deeply fascinated and marveled deep in my heart, “what a happy life!” And from that moment on, I decided in my heart to go to Tibet.
When I filled out my choices on the college entrance exam, I chose Tibet University without my family knowing. When I received the acceptance letter from Tibet University, I excitedly read it over and over, and then I told my parents about my plans. My parents were happy that I had been admitted to college, but as for my choice of school, they had concerns. They only knew that Tibet was very far away, had no good transportation, was cold and at high altitude, and sparsely populated.
For myself, I was extremely eager to go to the sacred Tibet, and after I expressed this to my parents, they eventually gave their support.
As the school day approached, my parents helped me pack my bags, and my uncle accompanied me on my way to Lhasa. At that time, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway had not yet opened, so we took a long-distance sleeper car. After bumping along the road for two or three days, we reached Lhasa. This was the first time I had left my parents, and I went very far. I looked out the window at the snow-capped mountains, the endless grasslands, the turquoise lakes, the free-running antelope, and I was filled with curiosity and anticipation of my upcoming destination.
After the long journey, we finally reached Lhasa, the place that had enchanted me. The blue sky, pure clouds, and buildings with ethnic characteristics attracted my attention. After all the arrangements were made at school, I couldn’t wait to use my free time to explore the city and experience the elegance of Lhasa.
Barkhor Street, which offers local people’s religious circumambulation, pilgrimage, eateries, and shops, was the liveliest place in Lhasa. A variety of small shops and vendors stalls lined the street, mainly selling clothing, local products, and handicrafts. Barkhor, the Old Town, was the center of the entire city. Most local buildings were low-rise, built with ethnic characteristics, but they looked slightly worn out. The infrastructure construction in the city was still not perfect, and public service facilities lagged behind.
In 2010, after I graduated from college, I went to work as a civil servant in a small county in Nyingchi, Tibet, sometimes undergoing training in grassroots-level villages and towns. At that time, there were no restaurants in the villages, so we had to cook our own food. There weren’t any single-occupancy houses, so several people had to share one. There was no shower facility in the room, so we could only take a bath once a month in the county town. Later, the living conditions in the villages and towns gradually improved. We stayed in our own houses, there were restaurants, bathhouses, and the road leading to the county was paved. During those few years, the farmers and nomads also had running water access in their homes, built toilets, and installed solar water heaters.
Later, due to work needs, I transferred to work in the county. After a few years, I took the public selection test, and I went back to Lhasa to work. When I returned to the place of my dreams, the busy streets, bustling roads, rows of shops, and beautiful and neat houses dazzled me.
What impressed me most were the changes in the Old Town: a row of unique shops with wide ranges of goods, foods from different regions, and tourists from all over the world taking photos. On weekends, I like to go around with my friends. Sometimes we take the train to Shigatse, which is only three hours, so we can get there and back in one day. For a long vacation, I drive with friends to Nyingchi. We take the car on the Lhasa- Nyingchi Expressway, which has beautiful roadside scenery.
It has been 13 years since I first came to Tibet. I personally feel that Tibet is changing day by day, and that I have realized my dreams here on the plateau.