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回不到的拉萨 The Old Lhasa, Where I Can't Go Back

wh  10-10-19 10:08


It was when I was in my senior year of high school that I started to aspire for Tibet, longing to be at the pure land to see snow mountains and flocks of sheep by the Nam Lake. However my dream to Tibet wasn’t made true until today—ten years later from the birth of the desire. Now I seem to become more sober-minded when facing this place where is once my dream land. Maybe it’s because of too much travel experience these years or that I have understood it much better, Lhasa has lost its original mysterious charming to me.

People spinning the prayer wheels on the Barkhor Street ---- photo by Li Zhongying

When I finally came here, “the city nearest to the Heaven”, and walk along the street 3,650 meters above sea level, I don't think it is that sacred. It bears little resemblance to itself. It is more like a third class city in the mainland China in the initial phase of development. There are crowds of people and flows of motor vehicles. The city is pervaded with thick commercial atmosphere, with advertising boards of China Mobile and China Unicom here and there. The large “Discos” fast food restaurant in front of the gate of the Jokhang Temple is somewhat unpleasant to the eye. The street to the Potala Palace is arrayed with shops as Metersbonwe, Bosideng, Jack &Jones, Nike and Adidas. From the big screen erected beside the Potala Palace, all kinds of commercial advertisements bombed your ears in waves. Only the Tibetan style decorations on the roof top remind you that you are in Lhasa. But they are small to see and even get overshadowed by the bustling surroundings. When I sit on the bus, I seem to have an illusion that I am still in Beijing and even feel awkward to see several Tibetan aunties crossing the street with prayer wheels in hands. No matter how you look at it, it appears quite out of place. The natives call Lhasa the “Little Sichuan”, for most shop owners are from Sichuan. Lhasa is actually another city built by the Han Nationality, who are selling its “purity” to the visitors from all over the world.

 The Jokhang Temple ---- photo by Li Zhongying

      据说在十多年前,拉萨只有几条小街,街上还有牛粪马粪,如今却只能见到车了。我想郑钧如果是现在来到拉萨,恐怕不会有 “回到拉萨” 的冲动了吧!
It is said that there were only several small streets in Lhasa a decade ago, and draught animals' dung could be seen everywhere. But what I see today here is only motor vehicles. I am afraid that if Zheng Jun came to Lhasa now, he wouldn’t have the impulse to revisit here.

Maybe only the pilgrims who are forever spinning the prayer wheels and making long kowtows among the streams of visitors and noisy shops outside the Jokhang Temple, can bring certain soothe and purity to our hearts. They appear to be the only ones who would not be distracted and forever stick firmly to their belief in this clamorous mundane world.



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Edit on11-02-16 11:31