This is a series of journals recording my days in the Yangtze River Headwaters volunteering project. I will try to update every day but there might be delays in the days I work in the wild without the internet. I’m also trying to write bilingual if time allows. Like it? Follow my Instagram (@anar.chica.yichenguo) for updates!
1 July, anniversary of the CCP’s establishment. Mount Tanggula Town, 4540m above sea level, sunny.
At half past two in the morning, the train Z917 finally arrived at Tuotuo River, the station so small that doesn’t even show up on the internet. Three fellow volunteers and I reached The Yangtze River Headwaters Ecological Conservation Station.
The accommodation here is beyond expectation. Comparing to the shed with no solid covers around deep in the Amazon where I worked voluntarily last time, this elaborately built station is star rated level! I went to bed with the expectation of insomnia due to high altitude, but slept surprisingly well. When I woke up in the morning at eight, no special syndrome is shown except that the world is filtered with light violet for a short while. Not sure if it was the pill I took last night worked, or the free diving training has made my body more adaptable to thin air, or both. But once I thought of the ‘curse’ in the volunteer’s handbook: no one who thinks they are well that day will end up well the second day. Therefore I responded in low profile to their inquiries, ‘I’m just fine.’
There are no special work for us for the first three days. We are required to rest and adapt to the altitude. Even though I don’t feel unwell, I was required to stay inside the station and not allow to follow and film their trash investigation today. Therefore I brought my camera, put on sunscreen, hat, and sun glasses, and went for a walk by the Tuotuo riverside inside the station. The water here resembles Rio Madre de Dios in Amazon. Both are originated from the glaciers and washing all the way down from the mountain. The mud in the river makes the water not very clear but indeed it’s very clean. Tuotuo River around this area is not a single flow but several of them tangled together, which forms a wide range of flow in the vast plateau. I sat by the riverside, watched the water non-stoppingly running, and could not avoid thinking what Heraclitus said, ‘one cannot step in the same river twice’. Tuotuo river is flowing quietly, but also changing. It keeps providing nutrients to nurture lives, as well as recording human activities. In the next one month I will be guarding this river, guarding the wildlife in the core of Hoh Xil within its basin. Now that I see it in front of my eyes, the excitement is added with a sense of solid responsibility.
前三天我们没有特别的工作安排，需多休息，适应海拔。虽无不适，也还是被要求留在站里，不允许随行跟拍今天的垃圾调查工作。于是拿上相机，涂上防晒霜，带着帽子墨镜，到站内的沱沱河边走一走。沱沱河的水很像亚马逊里的Rio Madre de Dios，同样发源于冰川并一路冲刷下来。河水里泥土多因此看起来浑浊，但其实很干净。保护站这一区域的沱沱河不是一支河流，而是纵横交错的很多条，形成了广袤的高原上很宽的一片。坐在河边发呆，看河水片刻不停地流动，不免俗得又想起赫拉克利特说过的“人不能两次踏进同一条河流”。沱沱河它静静地流淌着，也不断变化着，源源不断地提供着养分孕育无数的生命，也悄悄记录着人类的活动。我将要在一个月的时间里，守护沱沱河，守护沱沱河流域可可西里腹地的野生动物。这样亲眼看着美丽的它，来时的亢奋渐渐多了一些实实在在的责任感。
After walking for a while, I sat in No.1 Post Office of Yangtze River also inside our station. The settings there is very comfortable, suitable for reading and writing. And then we encountered again the cat mewing at us when we arrived early in the morning. It seems she has already accommodated herself in the station, and she’s very close with people. When we squat around in a circle to pat her, she rubs her face against everyone’s legs. She doesn’t show any sign of the cat’s arrogance. She’s a cat without Jiecao (self dignity). The staff in the station said she doesn’t have a name yet and that we could give her a name. Her hair is desert brown, similar to that of the Chinese desert cat. We guess she might have some desert cat genes. And considering her interactions with people, ‘Mo (desert, similar pronunciation with ’no’ in Chinese) Jiecao’ naturally became her name. I think it would not be a bad idea if she became the mascot of this station and famous on the internet. She can add some fun and cuteness to the serious working conservation centre.
There was only one dish for lunch, but it was really delicious! In the station we take turns to cook. I became an apprentice of the chef, hoping one day I will surprise myself. I had a long nap after lunch, then discovered a great spot in the station – the coffee room. It is right by the riverside, another great spot for reading and writing, and watch the river flow.
Everyone I met here is awesome. We all made the same decision to come here, no matter staying long or short. There’s that same wild blood in us, the infinite love for nature.