No matter how prosperous development, there are nomads are still willing to migrate to their favorite on the Tibetan plateau in summer every year. Stephen McDonald reports from the beauty of the plateau region.


The time when Tibetan nomads toured around empty landscapes in search of shelter is not unknown to any of us. One generation and the descending ones camped in random places that provided food and shelter. Sleeping there for months, these Tibetans tasted the flavors of nomadism. The livestock was kept on the run with the nomads in search of vast pastures that were season friendly. Their territorial limits were set by natural features such as rivers or mountains, also allowing them to display all facets of their culture, wherever they went.

2016 of the modern world without leaving any culture or traditional space. Or maybe it’s your intuition, if we tell you the nomadic culture. Let us say to you, does not change too much. Like the people of the Tibetan people loyal to their traditions. This is how we come to this conclusion.

So, we decided to explore a Tibetan community based in the Aba region.


This country came under spotlight recently due to a notorious activity: the self-immolation suicide protests. With a massive amount of monks and nuns sacrificing their lives in opposition to the consequences of the Beijing rule, the Tibetan towns became the graveyard to 150 lives. Aba was most bloodied in this self-imposed battle.

This instability leads to higher security, thus hinder the easy access to the area. However, reduced the intensity of self-sacrifice enables us to visit the community and people to interact with them.

Sichuan, the central Chinese province constituting of Aba, is an essentially true depiction of China. An amalgamation of both cute pandas and peppery food. This map below depicts how Sichuan is basically the center of China.


However, driving out of Chengdu and proceeding west will take you into a distinct world: the Tibetan Plateau. In order to reach there, you need to follow the roads going up and further up.

When it comes to Tibet, it is necessary to talk about the Tibet autonomous region (TAR). This is the area off-limits to foreigners. Journalists need to obtain permission and authorization to access this land, if they get the permission, then mandatory to locals sometimes accompany them.

In order to not dampen your spirits, allow us to unleash the fact that the real residency of the ethnic Tibetans is another area, which is double the size of TAR. That area stretches out from the plateau and dissolves into the region of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu.


Naming this larger-than-life area as the Tibetan zone, this is where we are spotted by the police almost instantly upon entrance.

It is interesting to note that the authorities expected us to this point. In their knowledge, we have been through the interview with the locals and instant recruitment acquisition logistics team. The news from the police, we should go to satisfy our curiosity elsewhere by locals to convey to us. However, our tenacity is why bring us to here.

Even before we have unpacked or settled, the officials intrude and initiate a quick chat. We are bombarded with questions like what is the purpose of our visit? As a result, we explain that we are here to film the traditional nomadic movement of the people on their yaks into the hills for the next summer season.

To our surprise, they cooperate with us, listen to our goals and GUESS WHAT, they let us stay! A big thumbs up for their alertness though because the next day when we interact with the locals, we have spies hearing us!

Our days began even before the sun to wake up. Connected to this area is people settled in the village. Winter’s atrocities requirements nomads in the same place for a few months.

As a result of a governmental policy regarding relocation, Tibetans have migrated to towns. Some report that there are ulterior motives behind this policy, primarily the facility of tracking of people. However, the Communist Party refutes all these allegations and claims that this policy is to ensure the improved standard of living for the Tibetans.

Hence, the Tibetans are not deprived of televisions, washing machines, or fridges for most part of the year. But, when the sun comes with the intention of staying for long during summers, the people pack their bags and head to the hills – the hills they belong to.

According to Kelsang Gyatso, “Nomads here are nomads to the bottom of our hearts. We lived like this from ancient times. Actually, we don’t like being in houses.”
After interacting with him and his family, we see the yak pushed into their pens. Soon, people with their neighbors, go to the same monotonous path they travel each year, leading to their livestock into the unparalleled natural beauty of the world.

Tibetan culture

“If we don’t go to the summer grasslands and just stay in the winter fields there will be no food left for the yaks. When they have new grass to eat, our animals will grow fat and they’ll produce enough milk.”

We also learn that the summer pastures are necessary for the wellbeing of the yaks. The consumption of the medicinal flowers embedded on the pastures ensures the health of the yaks.

Government officials surveillance of we decide our story too boring and dull his tastes, eventually disappear. Or maybe he realize that we are not bluffing, the purpose of the visit and people talking about it no harm. Really, truth, false been eradicated.

A recently made tar road, located near Kelsang Gyatso’s place, is used for the migration. With that, the migration season is officially kick starts!

The horde of animals needs to be parted in order to facilitate the movement of the cars and trucks. But many drivers choose to wait, allowing the beasts to make their way first.

Hide on horseback, tibetans fully ready to roll. To whistle again and again, these people call their animals into the mountains. Some yaks carrying camping necessities, such as bedding for the convenience of sleep.

We communicate with a young man riding on his horse. He tells us that they need to move at this time of the year to benefit most from the fresh grass and vast pastures. They also have governmental restrictions on the amount of time they can camp, which is why it’s important that they hurry up.

When asked how he felt to follow this tradition and practice his ancestral culture for a few months, I was disappointed to accept how to respond to him. “I am a little tired,” he said.

Emulating the groups of people and animals, we also reach a grassland adventure park. (sounds very adventurous, not so much in real).


This park is building, the midpoint of the migration path has already begun. Other adventure park is located in the nearby. It will eventually allow the giant contain a lot of people every day. Rumors tell us in this adventure park may also build a swimming pool, although this will destroy the nature center. Hundreds of yak through the parking lot, finally through the main gate. We are interested in watched yaks through the turnstiles into the crowded area of tour bus. All there to witness this magnificent traditional migration in today’s time!

These Chinese Tibetan areas have housed rebellions and uprisings in their not-so-old past. Beijing has also been held responsible for the restrictions on practicing Tibetan culture, language, and Buddhism.

We stop our bus there, go out and talk to those who see immigration. They are in their cameras record the scene.

“Up here it’s exactly the eating a mouthful of meat, drinking a mouthful of wine plateau feeling that I wanted,” says one woman.

“It feels like another world. I feel stronger about Tibetan culture because Tibetans are purer and lead a more simple life,” says another and her friend nods in approval.

They seem to be amazed at the natural beauty around them. In addition, they seem to be on the nomadic people really admire. After entering the prairie park, they will be able to better work here with the locals.

The local community in every year visit tourist Numbers vary in Tibetan area. Very surprisingly, even run their guests boarding in the region are also concerned about the natural beauty of the area pollution of the large Numbers of tourists and their traditional sacred.

Tshe Bdag Skyabs says, “I have been traveling on my animals for two days straight.”

“On the one hand, people’s incomes have increased and transportation is more convenient,” he says. “But the environmental harm from development has been huge.”

In the end, he and his family leave the park with a group of four hundred yaks. Now, all the connection was cut to the outside world. The concept of modernity is an unknown.

Upon arrival at the awe-inducing highlands, the people feel elated. This place is pure from any signs of modernity or development; no shops, houses, buildings. Nothing of that sort. Just vast empty lands reminiscent of their ancestors.

“When I make it here my mood is very good, exceptionally good,” he tells us. “When city people come here they will also feel happy because of the fresh air and the smell of wildflowers. It’s like a fairyland.”

These nomads in the highlands until September. To protect the region’s natural beauty is still very important for them, so these people will go barefoot in order to protect the flowers. Animals will be given milk; Butter and cheese production by them.

As soon as the cold weather will prevail, the nomads will pack up and return to their hometowns. In hope of returning again the next year. In hope of relishing their cultural heritage again next year.

The conflict between traditional and tourism can bring advantages and pitfalls, it is not surprising. Benefits can be expected that can overcome the shortcomings. When it comes to Tibetan nomads again, we must give them a unique determination. They are real, rituals and traditions, no matter what the world think.

That is exactly what all the communities in the world need to worry about – abandoning their cultures and becoming rootless. Maybe it’s time we learn a thing or two from Tibetans.

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