"I overcame myself to see Tibet": MAI-SJTU student conquered the highlands

February 20, 2023

Mountains, Buddhist temples and yaks. Tibet is such a place on the planet where that not every tourist will dare to visit. But there is no such height that a real MAI resident will not be able to conquer! Lyubov Mamurkova, a student of the Russian-Chinese MAI-SJTU program, told about her adventure in this harsh mountain area.

Preparing to go to the mountains

"I have never been interested in Buddhism and Tibet, but when I found myself in China and was planning my vacation after the graduation, that is when I realized that I wanted to go there. Traveling to Tibet seemed to me to be some kind of a vaccine – like you put your body under pressure, in stressful some conditions, and you do that in order to become stronger."

Traveling in the highlands requires very specific preparation that is to be taken very seriously and responsibly. Not all people with profound experience in climbing will dare to go to the 4000 meters above sea level, because it might have serious consequences: it is impossible to predict what will the symptoms of the mountain sickness be in each particular case.

"I read a lot about mountain sickness, bought special warm and at the same time light clothes for hiking, shoes, an oxygen tank, medicines. Of course, I was afraid to go, but the decision was made, and I was not going to give up."

From Shanghai to Tibet

This journey takes about 55 hours, so she decided to make a couple of stops – in Zhangjiajie National Park and at the beautiful city of Chengdu.

"Zhangjiajie is a stunning forest, where giant pillars of sandstone and quartz were formed over millions of years, which, by the way, inspired the creators of Avatar. And the city of Chengdu seemed to me one of the most cozy and pleasant cities in China – we celebrated the lunar New Year there and rested for a couple of days."

Adventures in the Highlands

The first point was Kanding – this place is called the "gateway to Tibet". The town is located at an altitude of 2500 meters, and the mountain sickness is already felt there.

After a short stop for acclimatization, Lyubov went to one of the highest mountain cities in the world – Litang. It is 7 hours away on a very steep serpentine.

"All the way, the driver with whom we were traveling read prayers. At first it surprised me, but then, realizing the danger of the mountain road, I didn't mind reading Buddhist prayers with him. At the same time, it was incredibly beautiful outside the window all along the way, it might be seen only on Tibetan land - I was haunted by the feeling that I was on another planet."

Litang is located at an altitude of 4000 meters. Here the mountain sickness manifested itself in full force.

"At such a height, the sense of reality is lost: the brain does not get enough oxygen, the heart is pounding furiously, the head is spinning. I helped myself with huge amount of water, an oxygen tank and medicines. It turned out to be very difficult to fight mountain sickness. Many times I thought that it was time to go down, but in the end I coped with it and did not regret it. After all, you can really see such beauty only in Tibet."

Tibetan wedding

Apart from the amazing nature, Tibet is remarkable for the people who live there. Indigenous peoples cherish their traditional culture and still observe most of the oldest traditions.

"From the outside, it might seem that Tibetans are harsh and not very hospitable people, but it is worth greeting them in Tibetan by saying, "Tashi-do," as they break into a smile and become very friendly."

The most memorable impression was the Tibetan wedding.

"We heard music from the courtyard of one of the houses, and the locals did not let us stay away. So, we became part of a fascinating celebration. The Tibetan girls even taught me some national movements and, surprisingly, it was after dancing with them my headache caused by altitude sickness was over – I came to life."

Getting to know the locals, customs, cuisine – that's what it was worth going on a difficult journey for. You can get to know Tibet – an amazing place on our planet – by immersing yourself in it completely.

"My main goal on this journey was not to give up. From the very beginning, I understood that it would be difficult. But I fully felt it only when I was on top. As a result, I achieved my goal – I overcame myself to see the real Tibet, and this will remain an unforgettable impression for my whole life."

MAI PR-department

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