Shopping in Chamdo

In recent years Chamdo had become one of the most developed cities of Tibet. Fashionable youngsters walked through the streets every now and then. Judging by their dialect, they were all Tibetan. Cinemas and video halls were always crowded. The private stalls in the streets were playing pop songs that were just getting popular in the inner land (compared with remote area). Snooker tables were everywhere along the roads. Such level of openness was beyond people’s expectation.

Such a prosperous land has naturally attracted merchants from a lot of places. Specialized markets come into being in some streets of the old town. Markets in Chamdo are quite different from each other. You could see rugs and Tibetan robes hanging on the windows of houses, or various herbs and medicines lying on a Tibetan cushion. Goods like Indian incense, agate necklaces, crocus, otter fur, bear palms and leopard fur could all be found at the stalls. These markets are crowded with people from different provinces, such as short Sichuanese, dark and slim Yunnanese, white-skinned Jiangsunese and Zhengjiangnese, Turkish-cap-wearing Xinjiangnese, white-cap-wearing Muslims from Ningxia and Qinghai. There are even some people from Nepal, India and Pakistan. The big and tall ones standing out of the crowd were the Khamba Tibetans.

The market place is filled with piles of watermelons, pears, apples, peaches and tealeaves. Butchers put giant yak heads on their shelves so as to prove the genuineness of the yak meat they sold. In the markets of Chamdo we saw, for the first time after we entered Tibet, such a richness and variety of goods. We took some photos of the yak butcheries. The “payment” was a picture of Chairman Mao and Banchan Lama for each of those being photographed. These Tibetans accepted the picture happily and put it on their heads to show their respects and then they hold it close to their chests, big smile spreading on their fuchsia faces.

The Tibetans are easy customers and never negotiat on price. That gives chances to the astute Sichuanese merchants to make good bargains. But sometimes the Sichuanese would invite their Tibetan customers to drink a cup of spirit. There are also some Khamba men strolling in the streets. They don’t do business, nor do they buy anything. They casually window shopping, as if hanging around is good enough to make them happy.

Read also What to Buy and Where to Buy in Chamdo


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