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Tourism changes lives of Tibetan villagers in NW China



From: China Tibet Online

In early autumn in the Gannan, northwest China's Gansu Province, the tourism peak season is gradually off from the summer.

The 48-year-old Tashi is the head of Drakarna Village in Tewo County, Gannan Prefecture. He has three children, with the oldest currently studying at Tibet University; the second child at Southwest Minzu University and the youngest in his second year at Tianshui Normal University in Gansu. Having three children all in university in the village is so rare that Tashi's family is often talked about.

In 2014, Tashi and his wife opened up an inn called "Stone City", because the translation of "Drakarna" means "stone box". Born and raised in Drakarna, Tashi has witnessed the changes in this mountain-surrounded village from poverty to high-rise buildings and crowds of tourists. Sometime, even thousands of people visit here on one day and it is "difficult to find a bed". For the last few years, many farmers have begun driving small cars.

"When I was young, my family was very poor. We often didn't have enough to eat, let alone have money to go to school, so I can only read a few characters," Tashi said. "Not learning to read has been the biggest regret of my life. So, even if I have to sacrifice everything, I will make sure that my kids are able to read." Tashi said that in order to provide for his three children to go to school, he did everything he could to earn money, such as sheepherding, digging for medicinal herbs, helping others hunt, doing manual work, and digging for cordyceps.

About seven or eight years ago, tourism in Drakarna became more and more popular, and tourists started coming in droves. Tashi and his wife cleaned their upstairs room and put in a few beds for tourists. They never expected that in the summer months, they would be filled to capacity, and the income they earned was very impressive.

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