The two-year-old Medog Highway has helped all nearby residents say goodbye to their old isolation and get on the fast track to prosperity. The “Secret Land of the Lotus” now has opportunities like never before.
Growing Profit from tourism
As soon as stepping inside Dagmo Ethnic Lhopa village in MedogCounty, you could see a striking banner hanging on the traditional Lhopa-style house, with its grass-roof and wooden construction, which says “The Happy Home of Tashi.”
Tashi, the 44-year-old owner of the house, is tanned and lean. He welcomed us with smiles. He’s a little shy when he talks.
In 2012, Medog Countyand Dagmo Lhopa Ethnic Town provided 250 thousand yuan to Dagmo Village and 150 thousand yuan to Tashi to build this Ethnic Culture Museum. On display are Lhopa hunting tools, production and lifestyle tools, dioramas, ethnic clothing, and woven rattan handicrafts, etc.
Tashi demonstrated traditional woven rattan art to the tourists and proudly talked about cultural heritage of the Lhopa, he also performed a dance to help the tourists experience his culture.
"We make about 100 thousand yuan a year, there’s more tourists in the summer than winter."Tashi said in not-quite-fluent Chinese.
Tashi was the first villager to run an ethnic culture center in his village. When he saw tourism taking off with the new Medog Highway, he was tempted by the opportunity. With help from the county, he was able to open the center.
Tashi invested 360 thousand yuan into this two-story Lhopa-style house. There are six rooms, ten beds, and a capacity for 10 guests and 20 diners. At “the Happy Home of Tashi,” tourists can try unique Lhopa food, enjoy Lhopa songs and dances, and have 40-plus kinds of rattan handcrafts to purchase.
"We’ve made over 300 thousand yuan since we started, and we bought a 200 thousand yuan SUV the year before last. We built a new house this year. There are seven of these ethnic culture centers in the village now. Our generation is living better than the previous generations.” Said Tashi.
Helpful Policies Enrich Villages
At Dagmo Village, there is a concrete roundabout road under construction, and plenty of houses under renovation. The ethnic culture wall and man-made lake are also being built; there is progress and activity everywhere.
"This is Dagmo Well-Off Demo Village’s construction project, with over 10 million yuan invested by Tibet-outreach, transportation, poverty-relief, and ethnic culture agencies. After it’s built, there will be a village committee office, cultural center, a plaza, ethnic culture wall, man-made lake, and other large leisure centers. Tourism will grow gradually. This is a real beneficial project for the people.” Said Tsetop Yeshe, Deputy County Chief of Dagmo Lhopa Ethnic County.
Benefiting the people is the starting point and foundationof every project by the Party and the government. The policies are bringing new developments and transforming Dagmo, a region nestled in the valley of Yarlung Tsangpo River.
In 2007, Medog County invested 2.47 million yuan to renovate and expand K110, a county road, making Dagmo Lhopa Ethnic County the first county to have a highway in thecounty. All four villages in the county are now accessible by the highway.
Villager Sonam has nine people in his household and four who work full-time. Last year, he received 42 thousand yuan in public forest subsidy, border resident subsidy, grain subsidy, and other subsidies, plus over 20 thousand yuan in farming income, making his household income almost 70 thousand yuan. “We’re building a big house now. There’ll be ten rooms and over 280 square meters. We spent about 300 thousand yuan and the government gave us 120 thousand yuan. It’ll be done this August.” Sonam said with a smile.
Tsetop Yeshe said that in 2014, there was a total of 6.45 million yuan in benefits provided for villagers. With almost 100% coverage for water, electricity, transportation, gas, and communications, the villagers now enjoy a much higher quality of living.
Showcasing ethnic culture
In 2014, Dagmo Ethnic Lhopa Village’s performing arts troupe was founded with help from the county government. The troupe provides almost 50 shows every year. They’re very popular thanks to their unique Lhopa-style performances and artists.
The troupe members are the young men and women of the village. They rehearse every chance they get, and do odd jobs or farm work after the rehearsal. They get 50 yuan in missing-work subsidy for every rehearsal, so they love to perform.
Norbu Tsering, a 23-year-old who loves to dance, was picked to join the troupe. He earned almost 20 thousand yuan from the performances. He said in stilted Mandarin, “I’ve always loved to dance. I was actually chosen for the county performance troupe, but didn’t stay there. I came back to the village and joined the village troupe and mostly do Menluo Dance. Our dances are very popular now. I hope we can dance in Lhasa one day, and show the people of Lhasa the passion of the Lhopa people.”
"The performance troupe was founded to promote Lhopa culture. Every holiday, they put on shows in the village and enrich the lives of villagers, it’s a win-win.” Said Tsetop Yeshe.