西藏: 第一印象

Tashilhunpo Monastery, built 1447 in Shigatse, Tibet.
Tashilhunpo Monastery, built 1447 in Shigatse, Tibet.

Tibet’s Himalayan mountain range serves not only as the home of world’s tallest mountains and plateaux, but also as the source of some of world’s major rivers systems.

Tibet, an autonomous region of China, extends over the world’s highest plateau at an average of 4,500 meters (15,000 ft). Its Himalayan mountain range hosts the world’s tallest mountains. It is also the source of some of world’s major rivers, like the Yangtze, the Yellow River, the Mekong, and the Ganges. Prior to PRC’s de facto takeover in 1950, Tibet had been governed by a theocratic government headed by the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama.

Violent conflicts have been a reoccurring theme in the decades since. Issues of civil liberty, property rights, cultural assimilation, on that account, are highly sensitive topics in the area. One example being the ubiquitous presence of military police across the region. Not only are foreigners required to be accompanied by travel guides for the whole length of their trip, they would also be inspected of their travel permit at various check points.

Mount Everest Summit Yamdrok Lake Himalayan Mountain Range

Despite government’s forced cultural assimilation, ethnic Tibetan still constitutes 90% of the region’s population while traditional Tibetan culture remains distinct and magnificent.

The dominant language spoken among the local population is Tibetan. Recent government-sponsored migration of Han Chinese, however, has made Mandarin Chinese more common, especially in tourist-heavy areas of its capital, Lhasa, and to a certain degree, Shigatse.

Waves of Han migration has sparked protests among Tibetans concerned about increasing erosion of political and cultural autonomy. This led to some serious conflicts in recent years.

Driving along the G-318 highway to Tingri unveils landscape that one is never going to forget. Aside from the magnificent mountains and terrain of strange colours (land stays barren due to high elevation and lack of oxygen), one sees scattered settlements of Drokpa.

Drokpa are indigenous nomads living in the arid climate of the Tibetan plateau. They are primarily goat and yak herders often seen wearing earth elements on their face to prevent sunburn.

Drokpa Children Nomadic Drokpa Barkhor Street City of Shigatse Tibetan Women

Many parts of the region are simply surreal and feels as if it is out of this world. No pictures or words can do justice to this enchanting land from the ancient past.

Despite their nomadic tradition, Chinese government has been trying to settle them in urban settings. This controversial move raises the issue of civil and property rights and undermines their traditional way of life. Currently, those “third-class citizens”, as many would call themselves, experience serious poverty, unemployment and social exclusions.

Despite forced cultural assimilation, ethnic Tibetan still constitutes more than 90% of the region’s population and traditional Tibetan culture remains distinct and magnificent. Many parts of the region are simply surreal and feels as if it is out of this world. No pictures or words can do justice to this enchanting land from the ancient past.

Tibetan artist at work Tashilhunpo Monastery Women Performing Kora Tibetan Man and Prayer Wheels

 

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