Conquering poverty at heights of Qomolangma mountain

China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-06-16 10:55
Conquering poverty at heights of Qomolangma mountain

When she was young, Dorlma saw Qomolangma, known as Mount Everest in the West, through her bedroom window every morning when she woke up. Little did she know that many years later, the world's highest peak would bring the 29-year-old her fortune.

At an altitude of 5,200 meters, where the concrete road comes to an end, the Qomolangma base camp consists of nearly 60 tents, offering tourists accommodation before they set out to trek on the 8,844-meter-high mountain.

Dorlma runs an inn in one of the tents.

"Tourists can spend the night in the warmth and experience Tibetan lifestyle by eating Tibetan food and listening to Tibetan music here," she said.

May 29 marked the 64th anniversary of man's first successful expedition to Qomolangma, with New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay from Nepal reaching the summit in 1953.

Decades after the initial scaling of the world's tallest peak, Tibetans at the foot of Qomolangma have conquered poverty by hosting professional and amateur mountaineers and tourists.

Like a traditional Tibetan herdsman's home, Dorlma's inn has a wooden floor set on stones, a shared bed for six people, three big Tibetan chairs for sitting and sleeping, and a stove at the center that burns cow manure.

"These are the best living conditions we can provide here," she said, while putting alcohol on the stove to start a fire, as heating is still necessary at the plateau base in late May.

The inn brings Dorlma an income of more than 100,000 yuan ($14,700) every year, which is 100 times the amount she once brought home from herding and toiling on farmland - farming yields are meager at altitudes above 4,000 meters.

Dorlma opened her inn in 2008, when only four tent inns were in operation.

She has witnessed significant changes in infrastructure at the base camp, including a concrete road, electricity, mobile networks and the world's highest post office.

Postal worker Tsomo started working at the post office in mid-April, collecting and stamping postcards every day. A set of 10 postcards displaying images of Qomolangma is available at the office.

"Sometimes I stamp thousands of postcards on a busy day," said Tsomo, adding that postal workers from the county post office visit once a week, ensuring the delivery of postcards to locations across China within 10 days, and to overseas locations within 20 days.

Chimed Tsering, Party chief of Qoizong village in Zhaxizom township, where the base is located, said every tent operator needs to pay 40,000 yuan in annual rent, which is distributed to poor villagers as a dividend.

"No household should be left behind on the path to prosperity," he said.

The benefits brought by the tourism boom are also shared by other villages.

Penlo, deputy head of Zhaxizom, said that 20 villages in the township are allowed to run inns at the base, with people from a further 10 villages offering delivery services by yak.

"As of last year, the entire township had cast off poverty," Penlo said.

Newlyweds Li Dongzhuoyi and his wife, from Northwest China's Shaanxi province, drove to Tibet for their honeymoon, with Qomolangma being the westernmost stop on their journey.

After mailing postcards, they visited Dorlma's tent to eat Tibetan food and drink butter tea.

"We did not expect there would be a warm inn at the foot of Qomolangma. The owner is hospitable and made us feel like we are at home," Li said.



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