Vil­lager re­turns home to open busi­nesses

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By DA QIONG and PALDEN NY­IMA

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.

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