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We're Watching You

I spent some time traveling through Tibet last year. I was prepared for all the typical things that come along with traveling in a foreign country, but the one thing that caught me off guard was the constant and pervasive sense that you were being watched. I don't mean this in an existential way, I mean literally being watched. First off, any foreign traveler must have set itinerary and a guide with him everywhere he goes. Secondly, there is a palpable tension among the locals which peaks when you ask anything more than superficial questions about their culture, history and current state of affairs.

Understandably so, this is a country that has lived under occupation for a long time. I remember sitting in the lobby of my hotel room in Lhasa and looking out the window as a dozen Chinese soldiers marched up the street. This is a typical sight, especially in Lhasa. There are rumors of guides disappearing because they were too chatty with foreigners and it is widely known that there are surveillance devices in most tourist locations such as monasteries.

As I walked through the Gyantse Monastery and looked around at the intricately decorated Buddhas, I kept wondering who was watching me on the other end …

ChristianOrtizPathosTravelKumbum StupaPalkhor MonasteryGyantseGyangtseTibetMonasteryMyriad Buddha StupaBuddha