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Couple funds trip to Tibet with mobile coffee van

Updated: May 1, 2023 Xinhua Print
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LHASA — Many people might search online for answers to questions like whether new energy vehicles are suitable for use on high plateaus as they prepare for a road trip to the Tibet autonomous region, but Mu Yiping and his wife, Tan Yan, focused on something else.

They were more preoccupied with finding out where to buy coffee beans.

Tibet's spring spectacle of peach blossoms in late March is a sight to behold for the crowds of tourists who come to view them.

Like so many others, the young couple from Chongqing traveled to the region to enjoy the enchanting sight, but what set them apart was that they had come with a mobile coffee van. "I have been looking forward to visiting Tibet for a long time," said Mu, 32.

"And then I had the idea of starting a mobile coffee van business to allow me to fund my travels as I enjoyed the trip."

It took them about six months to modify the green van they chose.

To ensure they reached Nyingchi city before peach blossom season, they left Chongqing in late February.

But the journey to the plateau was no easy task. While crossing a mountain pass at about 4,400 meters, they were stranded for two days due to heavy snowfall and had to eat and sleep in the van.

"Once we hit the road, we discovered that the trip might not be quite as wonderful as we had imagined. We often had unexpected problems with water and power, and it was also difficult to buy supplies on the road," Tan said.

But as their mountain journey continued, so did their progress with their coffee business, which they would set up beside the road during traffic jams. They also began to serve new drinks with a Tibetan twist.

In mid-March, as the peach trees were still budding, the couple arrived in Bomi county in Nyingchi and decided to stay there for a while.

Despite the exhausting drive, the stunning views made it all worthwhile. They stayed for 20 days in Bomi, eagerly waiting for pink peach flowers to cover the mountainside.

"The sight was amazing and really made our day," Mu said.

He said that what impressed them both was not only the scenic beauty but also the incredible changes Tibet has undergone over the past few years.

"Compared with my last visit, I have noticed significant improvements in the quality of public infrastructure such as roads and scenic spots, which now offer quality services," Mu said.

In recent years, Tibet's focus on infrastructure and efforts to promote its tourism industry has made it an increasingly popular holiday destination.

Data show that from January to February, Nyingchi received over 1 million tourists from home and abroad, generating revenues of 906 million yuan ($131.7 million).

"Whether it's camping or self-driving tours, everything is so convenient in Tibet," Mu said.

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