The Road (2014): Accessible only on-foot, the Nepalese city of Lo Manthang is a perfectly preserved time capsule of Tibetan culture. But a new road has many worried this bastion of tradition may soon fall under Chinese influence.
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“All people deserve the opportunity of modern development”, claims Indra Bista, a Nepalese guide to this isolated region. “Cars, electricity, internet, computers – these should be developed while also preserving the local culture.” The planned highway linking the remote city to the outside world could see the return of much-needed trade and prosperity to the poverty-stricken people of Upper Mustang. Since China sealed the Tibetan border in the 1950s, the local economy has all-but suffocated. But in a cloistered kingdom where residents still speak Tibetan and practice their religion freely, there are concerns that the proposal would open the back door to a cultural invasion, and tarmac over their ancient liberties. “How will the living traditions be kept alive?”, asks Tenzin Choegyal, a musician journeying back to the place his parents called home after fleeing Tibet. He fears this last recognisable piece of the land he abandoned long ago may also soon disappear.
ABC Australia – Ref. 6257
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