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A Chinese Man's Solo Travel Across No Man's Land in Tibet (1)

22 July 2011

He is a legend and has been adored by millions of young Chinese as a superman, for his extraordinary adventure in no man's land and for his noble approach to life in general. Our superman is a seasoned traveler, not through air but on foot; a gifted writer, not as a tabloid journalist but as popular travel books' author; and a celebrity in China's cyberspace, not because he published a lot online, but the contents and the presentation of his only post are so impressive, incredible and inspiring.

In fact, the superman is too busy with his traveling around and writing on and deliberating about the solid world he lives in, that he seldom has time to ramble in the virtual world.

Except once last year.

It was a day in September around midnight, when he posted his first message under his nickname "逆流之河" (River of Counter Flow) on, China's popular forum frequented by "Donkey Friends" (Chinese hikers), reporting the completion of his second trip across China's no man's land in Tibet.

Only by then the world learned what a heroic undertaking has been accomplished first time in history. Before this man, there was never any one coming out of this cursed terrain alive, but he did, and did it without media hype, without commercial sponsorship, without vehicle, and, without companion. In short, he walked through this land of shocking beauty and reprehensible horror, alone.

QiaQiangtang Nature Reserve, an enormous alpine basin stretching 1,300 km with an average elevation exceeding 5,000 metres above sea level, is situated in the northern part of the Tibet province between the Kunlun Mountains to the north, the Tanggula Mountains to the east, and the Nyainqêntanglha Mountains to the south.

The blue area is roughly the region where Yang Liusong traveled across.

It took him 77 days to complete his voyage and about a month to publish his entire travel log online. By now, nine months after he disappeared from the cyber world again, the thread is still receiving ten thousand hits each day with a massive 100 million in total, and accumulated over 15,000 passionate replies. People are not merely following him on his journey across a domain out of human reach, but on his voyage deep into a spiritual realm beyond mundane contemplation.

Oh, right, the superman's real name is Yang Liusong (杨柳松), and he was born, grown up and still lives and works in the south of the Yangtze River.

The following are the excerpts from Mr. Yang's travel log (photo credit to Yang Liusong, English translation by Multipletext).

The original thread can be viewed at There is also an English version of the complete log, translated faithfully, almost word by word, by a Chinese Netizen, which can also be found at

My travel route in Qiangtang

My second voyage across the Great Qiangtang basin began on 16 April 2010 and finished three and a half months later on 5 July, covering 1,400 kilometres in 77 days with 74 days in no man's land on my own.

My preparation for the journey included 100 kilograms of food and a fair amount of battle water. Along with my bike, I boarded a truck with a full load of scrap iron to arrive at the foot of Mt. Daban (界山大阪), and camped there. It was a very windy day and I had to use my body weight to press on the bottom part of the tent to prevent it from being blown away while sleeping.

I woke up next day at about 11am and marched towards the Reserve. When approached the border, I was intercepted by four PLA officers. There was a time when I was really anxious that they might send me away. Last year I was escorted out of the field. Luckily the army officers didn't seem to be suspicious of my intention of boundary crossing, so just enquired if I needed some assistance in food and clothing, and urged me to take extra care when sighseeing along the border. I thanked them for the concern, but as soon as they left, I wasted no time in packing up my bags and dashing into the deep of the no man's land.

From this point on my journey formally began and the following are the notes compiled from my travel log recorded on daily basis during the trip.

19 April 2010, the first day in the No Man's land, I am greeted by a picturesque Ya River and a violent sandy storm.

At a river bank, stunningly beautiful beach flowers are in full bloom on a tree standing tall alone among low shrubs.

I hiked 16 km this afternoon to arrive in the east tip of Longmucuo (龙木错东端) and rest for the night in an abandoned sheepfold where I camped last year (2009). Nothing has changed since then as if I just left yesterday.

The first thing on the second day is to search for the wetland that I missed out last year. And I find it in a valley. The temperature here is freezing and the snow has been shaped by the vigorous wind into ice blocks with sharp edges on the top.

But the wetland nearby is like a world in another season entirely with warm springs oozing out of the ground here and there.

The springs have fostered a hospitable micro-environment that allows the vegetation to thrive and the fish to swim freely. A phenomenon as such in the place with the high altitude of 5,200m above sea level is very rare, which I've certainly never witnessed anywhere else. It's truly amazing.

The sun is again setting behind the western hills and the loud sound of tidal waves can be heard which is very much like that from ocean. I decide it's time to call it a day.

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Yang Liusong (杨柳松) and his bike that was used to carry his bags not his body during his trip in Qiangtang basin.

Quotes by Yang Liusong:


Traveling is a way of exploring the planet, but the best exploration is through our daily life. There is no such thing as taking adventures to discover something new, all we take are journeys to comprehend what we've already known, about the world that surrounds us, about the world within us.


Life is a river, flowing forever, circling over and over, with no final destination to conclude the tour.

Through online exploration, we discovered following books under his name:

A Knob, Both the Starting Point and the Final Destination - A Journey Across the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon

by Yang Liusong

Empty Land in the North - 77 Days Solo Journey Across Great Qiangtang Basin

by Yang Liuson

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