The railway on the roof of the world starts running on July 1. CRI reporter Zhou Jing asked some Tibetans working and studying in Beijing what they thought of the railway.
(Audio available for download)
The Beijing Tibet High School looks like any other in the city, with lots of students playing ball games as I walk into the playground.
The thing that hints at the students' unique background are the girls playing "Cuqiu", a ball game that's typical of their ethnic group.
The school's 600 plus students all hail from Tibet, a region thousands of miles away from Beijing.
Going home is an extravagant dream for many of them because of the distances involved.
Awang Gelai in senior one says he didn't go home once while he was in junior school. "My junior school was in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. During the whole four years, I didn't go home even once. After my graduation, I could finally go home. First I went to Chengdu in the Sichuan Province by train. From there I took a plane home. The whole journey took me almost four days."
Pubu Zhaxi, a very active Tibetan boy, says he can't wait for the railway to start running, even though the tickets are selling so fast that he couldn't get one for the summer vacation. "Last summer my brother, who's also studying in Beijing, went home with me by plane. The return fares cost our parents more than 7 thousand yuan. It's really pricey. So this summer with the opening of the railway, I planned to go home by train. Unfortunately I couldn't get a ticket but I'll have another chance, probably next summer vacation."
Pubu says his family in Tibet will benefit from the railway. "My Mom works at the Tibet Road Bureau and travels a lot between Golmud and Lhasa. She used to have to go by car. This takes a lot of time and the highways can be very dangerous. Whenever she traveled, we were very worried about her safety. Now, with the railway, everything will be fine."
50-something Gesang Zhuoga, a senior broadcaster for China National Radio's Tibetan Service has a lot more to say about her travel experiences than these teens.
Even though more than 40 years have passed, she can clearly recall every detail of her first trip out of Tibet in 1960. "My sister and I were selected to study in Xi'an. So we travelled with lots of other kids from our hometown of Xigaze to the hinterland for the first time. I remember we were carried in an Army truck. The roads weren't even and we were bumping up and down all the way. It was so cold all of us were frozen numb. It took us almost six days to arrive at Liuyuan in Gansu Province."
Gesang has had many similar travel experiences since that day. She says they still leave her heart fluttering with fear.
Gesang's busy work schedule means she'll keep flying between Beijing and Lhasa, but she's still very excited about the new railway that will link Tibet to the rest of the country. "Due to the limited means of transport, many Tibetans have never been out of Tibet or even out of their hometown. The rail link finally provides a safe and affordable way to travel outside the region. What great news! I can't thank the central government and people who've dedicated themselves to this huge project enough. You know, my brother in Tibet excitedly told me he might suddenly appear in front of me, thanks to the convenient new transport."
China Drive is one of CRI's radio programs aired from Monday to Friday. We pick the most interesting life reports from China Drive. Stay tuned.