Look, Tibet!

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These images were taken on the Friendship Highway between Lhasa in Kathmandu in early January 2008. The first shows the Himalayan range as seen from Thong la, the pass that marks the very edge of the Tibetan Plateau. After Thong la, the road winds down towards the Sino-Nepalese border at Dram/Kodari.

The images of the truck were taken a few kilometres after the pass. We exchanged guesses with other bystanders about how it may have tipped over. Nobody came up with a good answer.

Last Friday we mounted a small photo exhibition under the title “The Art of Neighbouring” in the foyer of the Central Library at the National University of Singapore. Two of these images are part of it. Many people approached us while we were setting up the show. Most of them were neither Singaporean nor Western students of staff. Those who responded most directly were all from Mainland China.

“Look, this must be Xizang!” they would say to each other. Xizang, the Mandarin word for Tibet, literally means “western treasure”. And treasure it was what they saw in Tibet. Some of them had been there; many planned to go and visit.


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