Marieke ten Wolde's blog

Documentary photography, and other things interesting enough to bother you with

Tibet Travel log 4, The entrance gate

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April 2012, Tagong

These ladies ask the (mainly Chinese) tourists quite aggressively 10Y for passing the gate onto their land that has a nice view on the golden temple. This is a commercial attitude I have not often seen in Tibetans, certainly not Tibetan woman. And although I do not like to pay for standing in a field, I think it is rather funny and it fuels the hope that the Tibetans are catching up with the Chinese in commercial business sense. The few Chinese tourists that come to Tagong in April at least seem to have no issue with this approach whilst the one other ‘foreigner’ that is there at the same time with me prefers to walk to the next hill to avoid paying. The westerner is annoyed as this spoils his preconception of the peaceful laid back Tibetan.

It is early in the tourist season, at this time of the year it is mostly young Chinese that are walking, cycling, hitch hiking to Lhasa some 2000 km and a few days (by car) away coming to Tagong. They are travelling by themselves or in small groups as they say ‘to get to know their country’. They all see Tibet is an integral part of China. Some have met foreigners that told them differently and they clearly think that is a laughable misconception of some misinformed foreigners that do not know about China.

Most of these Chinese backpackers show a true interest in and respect for Tibetans, the culture and the religion. It is good to see that they are genuinely interested and try to understand the place, not just treating Tibet as a giant open air museum like most of the tour groups do. Some are even mildly critical about the enormous amounts of army trucks passing through Tagong on a daily basis heading further into Tibet.
These kids are well educated, relatively wealthy and I hope that once this generation comes to power there will be more understanding that will result in changes in the attitude and policies with regards to Tibet.

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