The changing face of Tibet
Since the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region 40 years ago, the face of its capital,Lhasa, and the lives of the Tibetan people have undergone great changes. Our reporter Zou Yue look at one of the most important aspects of this change, the embrace of modern civilization.
( 2005-10-27 )
As usual, Tibetans are paying their respects to Buddha in the JokhangTemple, and workers are adding the final touches for Thursday's celebrations. Beside the temple is the bustling Barkhor street, a market that attracts lamas, common Tibetans and tourists.
33-year-old Chokyi Nyima is having a busy day running his bar. Since he opened it in 1997, business has become increasingly brisk and profitable. The reason: more people with an appetite for Tibetan culture are coming.
Owner of Lhasa Makye Ame Bar Chokyi Nyima said, "In the past, we just catered to foreigners, but now there are more local people and tourists of the Han ethnicity. In this information age, people are coming not just for leisure, but also to find out about the local customs and culture."
And culture brings money. Summer is the busiest season for Nyima and his business. The lure of Tibet used to lie in its mysteriousness, but now, people are coming to experience its modernity.
US Tourist Rachel Claire said, "Lhasa is more modern than I expected. It does not come through with written word."
Religion is still one of the most important parts of Tibetans' lives, but change is creeping into Lhasa. The younger generation is now taking on more secular lifestyles. A hip-hop clothing store is not what one expects to find on Barkhor street. But it's one of 20-year-old Zong Ji's favorite places. Trying something different is no longer a risk, but a pleasure.
A Tibetan Student said,"Young students like me prefer to try something modern and fashionable."
Store Owner Tu Dan said, "Tibetan people are catching up to western styles of dress, which used to be totally foreign to us. This is nothing new here."
The changes keep coming, and the face of Lhasa is changing like the lives of its people. But Nyima is already bracing for more changes in his hometown, while still holding onto his cultural roots, and hope for even better business.
With the ever increasing flow of information and people into Tibet, the ancient land of mystery is on its way to modernization. And the celebration of 40th founding anniversary of the Tibet Autonomous Region is believed to be a boost in the drive of its people to become richer and hopefully happier.