Market life in Lhasa, Tibet

Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet – the country which the 14th Dalai Lama had to flee from back in 1959.

Rows of souvenir shops in Lhasa

Rows of souvenir shops in Lhasa

During my 2008 visit of Tibet, I often wondered how the country would look if it was untouched by China.

What if the Dalai Lama was still living in Potala Palace? What if the indigenous population was left alone and not forced to relocate? How different would their market look, without the Chinese characters on their store signage?

Mixture of Tibetan and Chinese elements found in Lhasa

Mixture of Tibetan and Chinese elements found in Lhasa

What type of produce would I find in their fresh market, if the Chinese government did not relocate millions of their citizen into Tibet and in turn displacing 2 million indigenous Tibetan people from their homes?

Candy and snacks store owned and operated by Chinese migrants in Tibet

Candy and snacks store owned and operated by Chinese migrants in Tibet

Fresh vegatables typically found in Chinese markets

Fresh vegatables typically found in Chinese markets

Chinese migrants selling fresh vegetables in market

Chinese migrants selling fresh vegetables in market

Dried herbs and spices

Dried herbs and spices

Instead of typical Chinese ingredients, would I see more of traditional Tibetan ingredients??

Dried goods sold along side with fresh vegetables

Dried goods sold along side with fresh vegetables

Yak meat sold from back of bicycle by 2 women in Lhasa

Yak meat sold from back of bicycle by 2 women in Lhasa

Chili, a stable in Himalayan countries like Tibet and Bhutan

Chili, a stable in Himalayan countries like Tibet and Bhutan

In the past 55 years, China has made irreversible changes to the country of Tibet. Does “progress” have to include a lost of identity?

This is a different aspect of globalization – much different format than what I pondered about between Tourism and Globalization.

What do you think?

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6 thoughts on “Market life in Lhasa, Tibet

    • Yes you’re correct, Sreejith. The contrast is drastic before and after the occupation by the Chinese government.

      Seven Years in Tibet was told by Heinrich Harrer while it was still mostly untouched by China. I have wondered if Tibet would be more comparable to Bhutan if it was left untouched by the Chinese.

      Thanks for bringing the reference for discussion.

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      • Yea, that’s true.

        We have some Tibetan settlements in India where people who fled Tibet has settled.

        Once you reach the place, it’s a different world altogether, so colorful and silent.

        I used to visit one of those places near Bangalore regularly.

        Meanwhile, “Seven Years in Tibet” is one of my all time favorite book 🙂

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      • Oh I would like to visit one of these settlements, if not visit Dharmasala.

        There’s a large community of Tibetans living in Toronto as well. It’s unfortunate that so many of them has been displaced. Though at the same time, I see they have integrated well into the Canadian society without losing touch with their roots. Sometimes I’ll see them wearing their traditional clothing in the city.

        I hope for a positive outcome to Tibet and Tibetans around the world.

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      • In “Kushal Nagar” near the beautiful hilly town of Madikeri, we have a beautiful Tibetan settlement.
        There is a big monastery, a university and quite a number of associated Tibetan style buildings here.
        If you Google for”Bylakuppe” you can get more info.

        Yea, they still follow their traditional dressing here too, it’s so nice to see 🙂

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