Lhasa's slow road to recovery

Updated: 2008-04-11 21:09

LHASA -- People sit in the park behind the Potala Palace, having a rest after praying. New metal doors at the burnt stores shine in the sun. Visitors are returning to violence-hit Lhasa where life is returning to normal.

Customers select cloths at Landun, which was burnt and looted during the March Lhasa riots,  in Lhasa, April 10, 2008. Landun, one of Lhasa's biggest shops selling children's clothes, opened its first floor, although rebuilding and decoration had not even started. [Xinhua]

More than 20 Tibetan pilgrims worshipped on the Potala square on Friday morning while hundreds more were touching and turning prayer wheels surrounding the red and white Potala Palace.

"People come here to pray as on normal days," said 80-year-old Wanglag, "I have been coming here everyday recently."

The Potala reopened to the public on March 26 after more than 10 days of closure for security reasons. Only two dozen tourists and 75 religious pilgrims visited the palace that day.

"There is still a lack of business because there are not so many visitors, but the number is increasing steadily," said Liu Jijun, owner of a Tibetan handicraft shop below the Palace.

"I'm still confident of business opportunities here."

The Potala Palace, which sits at an altitude of 3,700 meters, was first built in the seventh century and used as a winter residence of the Dalai Lamas. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sun Wenran, 25, and her boyfriend arrived in Lhasa by train from Shanghai on April 7 for a four-day visit.

"Some bars and other entertainment places are restarting their businesses, but not so many people are out enjoying the night life. But we feel safe here", Sun said.

"People here are friendly and the police are kind. They often remind us to take care."

She is now busy finding other visitors to share a car in their trips outside Lhasa.

Foreigners, however, were still advised not to enter Tibet. Following the March 14 turmoil, the Tibet government has suspended handling the application of foreigners to travel to Tibet for safety concerns. Those already in Tibet were also advised to leave soon.

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