Birds In A Cage
Lhasa Travel Blog› entry 26 of 94 › view all entries
Note: The views expressed in this blog are entirely those of the author and should be read as they are intended; as the experiences that I had whilst in Tibet and merely my own reflections.
This is one of the hardest blogs that I have had to write:
How do I write about Tibet, which I view as a separate country from China, and still provide a balanced view into a culture that has been beaten down and subjugated since 1959 by its larger and more powerful neighbour? How do I try and leave my bias at the door and not get emotional about the things that I experienced? How can write about a culture and the events that so affected me that I was left in tears?
Tibet had been an independent country until 1959 when China came and took over under the recently formed Communist Party.
A local explained that China had taken control of Tibet under the "Successful Liberation of Tibet by China" in 1959 because centuries ago the Tibetan king, Song Tsan Gampo had married the Chinese princess Wencheng in order to promote diplomacy between the two countries. Furthermore, this same king had married a Nepalese princess named Bitikuti and a Tibetan princess called Monksa Trijam. Okay, so the king liked pretty girls, but it was the Tibetan princess who bore him a child who went on to rule Tibet.
I have nothing against Wencheng she seems very lovely from the statues that I saw of her within Jokhang Temple, but to me it seemed like a weak argument for occupation of a country.
I asked a local what it was like living under Chinese rule and they equated it to being stifled, their exact words were, "Tibet is like a beautiful bird in a cage". Later they expressed themselves more by saying they hated living under Chinese rule. What made this situation so much more poignant was that we had to look around before we could discuss any of this. Everywhere in Lhasa there are police and uniformed military watching you, waiting for an uprising of some sort. How the Tibetans are meant to up rise is beyond me.
Tibetans are different from their Chinese counterparts. Not only are they quick with a smile but they wear their traditional clothing, have their own language and are very devout in their Buddhist religion; something that is not understood by the politicians of China. Communism and religion has never worked well together and this was further emphasised in the Muslim quarter of Lhasa where there were soldiers stationed on the roof of the mosque.
Lhasa has some beautiful architectural sites to go and visit, including the impressive Potala Palace, which was constructed in the seventh century. At 3800 metres about sea level, I was at the highest I had ever been (outside a plane), and the Sera Monastery, which is home to the debating monks. Daily, young monks go out into the courtyard and debate with each other, slapping their hands when they ask a question.
But for me the real highlight of Lhasa was the Tsamkhung Nunnery. For 30 Yuan ($6 NZD) you can visit the 60 nuns and see their daily activities including meal preparation and the cutting and rolling of the prayers for the inside the prayer wheels. However, it was within the Assembly Hall where I connected most with these group of women. Sitting in the hall with them as they repeated a mantra over and over again, I listened with my eyes closed and my ears open.
Jay yong from Tibet