Feature: A post office for one at the base of Mount Qomolangma
LHASA, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Tsomo, 26, is the only staff for the post office at the foot of the world's highest peak Qomolangma, also known as Mount Everest, in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
Located more than 5,200 meters above sea level, the 20-square-meter post office was established in 1998 at the base of Mount Qomolangma in Zhaxizom Township in Tingri County. It is known among global tourists as the highest post office in the world.
The Tibetan girl has been working at the office since she graduated from a vocational school in the city of Shigatse in 2011, with a monthly salary of about 1,000 U.S. dollars.
In many people's eyes, Tsomo's job is easy and boring: every workday, she needs to postmark thousands of postcards and souvenir picture albums which display spectacular views of Mount Qomolangma in different seasons.
At the post office, a postcard has two postmarks: a red mark printed with the word Qomolangma both in Chinese and Tibetan, and a black mark indicating the date and address of the post office.
During the peak travel season from April to October, Tsomo needs to postmark more than 3,000 cards every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. She sometimes needs to write blessings on postcards in Tibetan for both domestic and overseas visitors.
"My job is very meaningful," says Tsomo in response to people who say her job is boring. "Tourists trek several hundred kilometers to have a look at the sacred mountain. They also want to send blessings to their friends and families by mailing postcards."
"They cannot leave anything at the base camp for environmental reasons, but they can bring something meaningful home," said Tsomo.
The base camp is suitable for year-round travel with a record 114,000 visitors in 2017. Staying at private houses, tea houses, or lodges is the most common practice at the base camp.
The busy work leads to irregular mealtimes for Tsomo. "I usually don't eat my meals during 'normal' times. Several tourists have to leave the base camp before sunset. I need to postmark their postcards as soon as possible so they can descend early," said Tsomo.
During the peak season, Tsomo's colleagues will come from Tingri two or three times a week to the post office to collect the postcards waiting to be mailed to every corner of the world.
"Sometimes I feel tired and bored. But every time I see visitors writing down their blessings, I can imagine how happy their families will be when receiving them from the sacred mountain," said Tsomo. "I become refreshed and energetic again."
Working alone at the world's highest post office is not so hard for Tsomo. After work, she often spends hours reading books, watching TV programs or video chatting with her family who lives in downtown Tingri.
"I am not lonely. I go back home twice a month and my parents and four siblings often come to see me," said Tsomo.
Tsomo has also made friends with the local people who run the tea houses or lodges at the base camp. "We often talk about the latest happenings with each other when we are not busy," said Tsomo. "They often prepare meals for me when I am busy, which I really appreciate."
The job also brings happy surprises to Tsomo who has received many postcards or letters from tourists. "I have made friends with some of the visitors. After they return home, they will share their travels with me by mailing me letters or postcards," Tsomo smiled when speaking of her friends far away.
Over the past seven years, Tsomo has received more than 50 postcards which are hung on the wall of her dormitory near the post office. "I feel warm every time I see them. They make me realize that my job is meaningful," said Tsomo.
The 8,848-meter high Mount Qomolangma presents dangers such as altitude sickness and bad weather. "The plateau bestows upon us a superior physicality, stronger lungs and heart, and a bright red face. These are gifts of nature," said Tsomo.
"Although my working conditions are hard, I will stick to my post and send blessings from Mount Qomolangma to more people across the world," said Tsomo.