Villager returns home to open businesses
Tibet’s biggest land port Khasa has lifted many border residents out of poverty over the last three decades and brought even more opportunities for them to improve their quality of life.
Located in a thick forest on a hillside in Dam town, Lixin village — or Ladrong as locals call it — is a settlement of Sherpa, an ethnic group with a very small population that lives in the Himalayan valleys in the border areas of China and Nepal.
Phurba, a native of Lixin, quit his comfortable job in the public sector two decades ago to run his own businesses.
When he graduated in the 1990s, Phurba was the first university graduate from his village.
“I could make myself very comfortable with a stable job, but I couldn’t help my relatives and villagers much,” Phurba said.
The 48-year-old said many of his relatives and villagers had hard lives due to harsh living conditions and low literacy 20 years ago, so he quit his job to try to help them.
At Khasa Port where he worked before, Phurba learned to speak five different languages.
When it became known he planned to quit that job, many of his friends asked him to teach English in Lhasa, but he rejected that idea as well.
“It was correct that I spoke good English at the time, but I wanted to teach English to the residents of my hometown,” he said.
When he returned to Dam, he operated a English training program for one year.
Following that, he traded wool and cloth at Khasa Port for several years.
“Khasa Port is an opportunity for us. I have experienced many ups and downs, but I have never given up, and finally I succeeded,” Phurba said.
He has kept to his original plan and has supported several children of his relatives for their schooling over the past two decades.
“Thanks to the support from Phurba, I did not meet any economic difficulties at school,” said Mantsi Droma, one of Phurba’s nieces.
Phurba spent six years at Khasa Port trading across the border and four years in Nepal running a medicine business in the 1990s.
Phurba made yet another change three years ago, when he shifted his focus on border trade to tourism.
His home village of Lixin is on a slope near one of the Himalayan valleys, with good ecological features, attractive landscapes and the unique Sherpa culture.
As the neighboring Khasa Port receives more and more tourists, the name of Lixin village is gradually becoming better known.
Phurba predicted the village would soon become a tourism attraction, and built an inn in a mix of Nepali and European styles in 2014. It is the first family-owned inn in the village.
Following Phurba’s example, the number of family-owned inns has increased to 10, and five restaurants opened within a year.
As the local government has planned to turn the village into to a tourist destination since some years ago, it has invested heavily in tourism infrastructure construction.
Construction of a 13-kilometer-long road costing more than 36 million yuan ($5.8 million) began three years ago, and it is scheduled to be completed late this year.
“When the road is ready, our village will welcome more tourists,” Phurba said.
The village’s attractions include snow-capped mountains, primitive forest, its old religion and the customs of the Sherpa people.
As many towering
oaks grow around Phurba’s inn, he named it Oak Inn.
Currently, the inn has eight staff, including a Nepali cook and waiter.
With 20 beds and other catering services, Phurba’s inn earned more than 150,000 yuan in its first year.
The village officials helped Phurba with the design and decoration of his inn, and he received more than 500,000 yuan from the government.
More than 10 households in the village jointly invested in the inn.
Phurba plans to expand his business in years to come by developing a vegetable farm and a chicken breeding center in the village.
“I hope as my business gets bigger, I could provide more employment to villagers,” he said.
Local Sharpas practice a Kora religious ritual. The ancient religion and its unique culture make Lixin an attractive new tourist attraction.
The first university graduate from his village, Phurba hopes his businesses can bring benefits to his fellow villagers.