CHINA Office on glacier in southwest China's Tibet


Office on glacier in southwest China's Tibet


20:18, September 18, 2020

A compact and cozy corner for you to think independently without being disturbed, or a spacious and bustling area full of energy and space for collaboration. What is your ideal office like?

When given the chance to pick the office of his dreams, Norbu Rinchen, a Tibetan young man, set his office on a glacier at an elevation of over 6,000 meters in Tanggula Mountains in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region to guard the precious water in his hometown.


Norbu Rinchen sets his office on a glacier at an elevation of over 6,000 meters in Tanggula Mountains in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. (Photo: CFP)

As one of the post-90s generation, Norbu Rinchen returned to his hometown upon graduation to work at a local water plant shouldering the responsibility of protecting glaciers as the crucial source of water. To facilitate periodic monitoring, Rinchen set up an unconventional office close to the monitoring sites and covered it with a tent when not in use.

Calling it "one of the loneliest offices in the world," Rinchen considers himself happy and satisfied with the contribution he is currently making to the conservation of water resources despite the harsh environment. "Meltwater from the glacier is the water source of the plant where I work, which is free from any pollution. And I am committed to safeguarding the treasure," said Rinchen.


Norbu Rinchen collects water sample on the glacier for future monitoring. (Photo: CFP)

The water plant where the young man works mainly provides bottled water extracted at an altitude of 7,111 meters in Tanggula Mountains. Via tens of thousands of years of mineralization, the alkalescent mineral water is naturally drinkable only after several process of filtration, hence the protection of the water source against any forms of pollution is important.


Norbu Rinchen calls the office he set on the glacier "the loneliest one in the world." (Photo: CFP)

Rinchen had studied in a college in southwest China's Guizhou Province. Most of his classmates opted to head to first-tier cities after graduation to earn a living. "Still my classmates teased about me writing reports at the glacier, saying that I have to live at the mercy of the elements," said Rinchen.


Tanggula Mountains are a famous mountain range in Tibet, of which the most rugged section is in the east and is covered by a considerable amount of permanent snow. (Photo: CFP)

Nowadays, the once hidden treasure guarded by locals like Rinchen can be shared and purchased nationwide via the cooperation with some well-known online platforms, such as the online shopping app operated by one of the Chinese internet giants NetEase, making the water production one of the pillar industries in the region. 

Although the industrial base is considered miniature in Tibet, years have witnessed the fruitful efforts made on environment protection and resources conservation as well as sustainable development in virtue of the climate and geography the region is endowed with. On the roof of the world, the pace still goes on.

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