Din­ing in Gyirong

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By PALDN NY­IMA in Gyirong, Ti­bet

It was 11 pm on a cold night in De­cem­ber and most busi­nesses in the Ti­betan town of Gyirong were closed up. A restau­rant run by a Nepalese cou­ple, how­ever, was still brim­ming with guests, warmth and laugh­ter.

The Nor­ling Restau­rant, op­er­ated by Mingme and her hus­band Denny, sits near the bor­der of the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion and Nepal’s Ra­suwa Dis­trict.

“We very much like this beau­ti­ful and peace­ful place sur­rounded by snow­capped moun­tains and kind peo­ple,” Mingme said.

The cou­ple comes from Shyaphru town­ship, 22 kilo­me­ters from Ra­suwa Dis­trict, where the China GyirongNepal Ra­suwa Bi­lat­eral Port is lo­cated.

Three years ago, the cou­ple gave their ho­tel in Nepal to rel­a­tives, and moved to Gyirong to make a new be­gin­ning.

“It is eas­ier to do business in my home­town, but I couldn’t make good money there. Here it is more dif­fi­cult, but my business is much bet­ter,” said Mingme, 27.

She said those dif­fi­cul­ties in­clude higher prices for goods in China and prob­lems buy­ing Nepalese rice.

She also op­er­ates a store inside the restau­rant, but she said the restau­rant pro­vided most of the in­come and most of her cus­tomers are lo­cals.

The prod­ucts she sells — Nepalese clothes, red wine, cof­fee and hand­i­crafts — are wel­comed here, she said.

“When business is good, I can make $323 in a day,” Mingme said. “In win­ter­time, my av­er­age daily in­come is around $100.”

For lo­cals and tourists alike, Nor­ling Restau­rant is the first choice for din­ing out in the re­mote town.

“When I go out to eat, I usu­ally choose the Nor­ling Restau­rant, be­cause I like the Nepalese food and the set­ting of the restau­rant,” said Phurbu Tser­ing, who lives in a nearby vil­lage.

Phurbu Tser­ing said he es­pe­cially likes a dish called Daal Bhaat, which Mingme said is popular with many cus­tomers.

Mingme em­ploys six wait staff and spends most of her time in the restau­rant and shop, while her hus­band mainly takes care of the lo­gis­tics of the op­er­a­tion.

As one of 25 Nepalese who op­er­ate busi­nesses in Gyirong — and one of around 60 of her com­pa­tri­ots who work and live there — Mingme said she is pleased with the pref­er­en­tial poli­cies pro­vided to bor­der res­i­dents by the lo­cal and cen­tral Chi­nese gov­ern­ments, as she had been con­cerned that the port might charge taxes on im­ported goods.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials at Ti­bet’s Xigaze cus­toms, bor­der res­i­dents are granted tax ex­emp­tions on up to $1,330 worth of goods per per­son per day.

With this month’s open­ing of Gyirong Port, Mingme be­lieves an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese and for­eign tourists will come.

“I hope more out­siders will dis­cover this peace­ful land and my restau­rant as well,” she said.

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