Across China: The transition of village at altitude of 5,070 meters

LHASA, June 1 (Xinhua) — In the eyes of Wangdu, 31, the most beautiful landscape in the world is in his hometown, a small village at 5,070 meters above sea level in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

Situated next to the Puma Yumco Lake in the city of Shannan, Dowa Village, home to only 40 households, is one of the highest villages in the world. For generations, villagers herd sheep for a living.

“I’d like to do something to make my hometown better known,” said Wangdu, who runs the first hostel in the village.

Benefiting from the improved education and social development, the village now has witnessed a vital change with young people like Wangdu returning home and contributing to its transformation.

Born into a herders’ family, Wangdu still remembers he had to help his parents with herding during vacations when he was young.

“Sometimes, we had to leave home for a month,” he recalled.

In 2013, Wangdu was enrolled at Tibet University in the regional capital Lhasa, becoming one of the first university students in the village. Four years later, the graduate majoring in broadcast decided to return home.

“It’s a pity that few people knew about the breathtaking view with the surrounding snow-capped mountains and the beautiful lake here. I want to do something to turn my hometown into a tourist resort,” he said.

In 2017, Wangdu opened the first homestay business in the village, providing 11 beds. To promote tourism, he went to Lhasa to find travel agency partners, issued brochures and opened accounts on online short video platforms.

At the same time, as part of the government’s efforts to fight poverty, villagers bid farewell to shabby houses, and had concrete roads built right to their doorsteps.

Now, villagers live in brand-new Tibetan-style houses. Equipped with tap water facilities at home, they no longer had to carry water from the lake. Villagers take turns to take care of the sheep, with the spared labor force being able to have other jobs.

The improved facilities have also brought more tourists. In 2019, receiving the government’s support for entrepreneurship, Wangdu upgraded his homestay into a lakeside hostel with 14 rooms, hiring five villagers for cleaning and cashier work.

During the peak seasons, such as the National Holiday last year and the Lunar New Year this year, the hostel was full. The tourists are from across the country, including the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu. Wangdu named the rooms with the nearby mountains and lakes, such as Puma Yumco, to make the places better known.

Migmar Tsering, director of the village committee, said three tea houses and two stores have been opened in the village.

The village was lifted out of poverty in 2018. Last year, the per capita disposable income of the village surged by 16 percent to 16,933 yuan (2,540 U.S. dollars).

Apart from promoting tourism online himself, Wangdu also invited Tibetan online celebrities to come for livestreaming to help with the promotion.

“I hope more tourists come so that more villagers will benefit from the tourism industry,” he said.

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