Profound friendship over the Himalayas

Updated: October 15, 2019 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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Due to the weather, the tourist market in Tibet starts to cool down in autumn, while Nepal, on the other side of the Himalayas, is bustling with tourists.

From October to March, Nepal is a good place for outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, gliding and rafting.

For Guo Zuobin, 45, her busiest time of the year also comes. Last year, she and her husband moved to the Nepali city of Pokhara to start a restaurant and bar business.

As the second-largest city in Nepal, Pokhara is a popular tourist destination just like Kathmandu.

A seasoned outdoor traveler, Guo had lived in Tibet for over a dozen years. But she has become increasingly unaccustomed to high altitudes in recent years because of aging.

Not wanting to part with the Himalayas, she cast her eyes on Nepal.

"Here has the same views of lakes and snowy mountains as Tibet, as well as the world's top hiking trails. Besides, the climate is more comfortable," she said.

She has made quite a few friends with tourists and locals over the past year, with Temba Sherpa being a special one.

In 2001, he set the world record as the youngest person to ascend the highest peak in the world at the age of 16. Guo had heard so much about him and met him in person in 2016 when she was traveling in Nepal.

"I never expected that we could become good friends and often meet each other," she said.

Temba Sherpa studied in China's central city of Wuhan and currently runs a mountain adventure company in Kathmandu.

He once thought learning Chinese would be more difficult than climbing Mount Qomolangma. "Now my Chinese is not that bad," he said. As Chinese tourists pour in, more and more of his clients are from China.

At present, the traffic between the two countries is mainly via air and land: there are 58 flights from Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou and Hong Kong to Kathmandu every week. Tibet also has two land ports to Nepal -- Zham and Gyirong.

Gyirong has gradually become the most important passage for China-Nepal trade cooperation, especially after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

By August this year, the import and export cargo volume at Gyirong reached 83,600 tonnes, and the trade value reached 2.37 billion yuan (335 million U.S. dollars).

On May 29, Zham port resumed its cargo transport, further boosting the bilateral trade.

Yusuf, 60, is a Nepalese businessman. He has been living in Lhasa for more than 30 years. In the 1970s, Yusuf made a fortune by purchasing wool in Tibet and selling it in Nepal. He and his wife Aminah now run a bed and breakfast hotel. In addition to the hotel, he also knits and sells Nepali hats.

Yusuf's grandfather worked as a translator in Lhasa more than 100 years ago. Influenced by his family, Yusuf speaks five languages: Tibetan, Mandarin, English, Nepali and Hindi.

In 2017, the first group of 118 foreigners, including Yusuf, were given permanent residence status in Lhasa, which allows them access to benefits such as health care, education, property enjoyed by the locals.

People-to-people exchanges have also strengthened ties between the two countries. Events such as the China Tibet Tourism and Culture Expo, Nepal international trade expo and Tibet-Nepal economic and trade fair have become important platforms for promoting bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

Nepal's handicrafts have entered the Tibetan market, while Chinese apples, clothing, shoes and hats and other commodities are also welcomed by Nepalese.

China and Nepal have broad prospects for cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, power development, communications, agricultural technology, education and culture, disaster prevention and reduction, as well as restoration and conservation of cultural heritage, said Di Fangyao, a professor with the Institute of South Asia Studies at Tibet Minzu University.

The Belt And Road Initiative will not only create jobs and increase incomes for a large number of Nepalis, but also bring about win-win results in cooperation for the two sides, he added.

Editor: 王若寒