China and, Tibetan Plateau

Final Behind the Scenes VIDEO : CHINA AND TIBET

December 25th, 2016

The final behind the scenes of our journey

After nearly two years since A River’s Tail was first conceived we find ourselves on the final leg of our journey, high on the Tibetan plateau. Since we first started following this river many things have changed. The tropical heat of Southeast Asia has given way to the frigid winter winds of Tibet. The sluggish brown body of water we had come to know so well morphed into a piercingly blue fast-flowing river that sat at the bottom of deep river valleys. Languages, cultures, and religions have all varied country by country. But what never varied was the unwavering hospitality and kindness of the people we encountered on the banks of the river, whether they called it the Mekong or the Lancang. The final push towards the source of the Mekong (and many of Asia’s great rivers) was easily the most logistically challenging phase of the journey. In such an expansive landscape, we drove more than 4000 km in two weeks — 80% of the entire length of the Mekong itself. The remoteness of the Lasagongma Springs meant that many of the communities we visited were equipped with only the most basic infrastructure, so keeping batteries charged (and fingers warm!) required careful planning. We had to bring large quantities of food with us as there were often enormous stretches that were virtually inhabited. But for all the challenges, our time in Tibet was some of the most emotionally and spiritually powerful of the entire journey. The rich and ancient culture of the Tibetans, infused with own type of Buddhism, combined with the breathtaking landscape of the foothills of the Himalayas made for an experience that was truly unforgettable. From monks who risked their lives to pull garbage from the river in order to keep it clean for those living down river to the father and son who volunteered to live at the source year round in order to ensure it was treated with care, the ways in which Tibetans respect their natural environment is an example for the rest of the world. Though our documentation of the Mekong is nearing its end, our time in Tibet ensured that we will never forget where this incredible river begins its 5000km journey to the sea.

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