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Skateboards, cars and travel part of modern world of Tibetan monks

Source: Xinhua | 04-02-2009 16:24

Special Report:   Tibet in 50 Years

TONGREN, Qinghai, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Wearing sneakers and riding a skateboard, 22-year-old Dawa looks like anything but a monk. The red robe, however, gives him away.

Dawa and his young peers live different lives than their monastic elders lived at the same age. Some of the young devotees own digital music players. Others even own cars they bought with their earnings from selling traditional crafts. But meditation and prayer remain the focus of their daily lives.

Dawa lives in the Nianduhu Temple of Tongren, a typical Tibetanarea in northwest China's Qinghai Province.

He was trying out the features on his new cell phone when a Xinhua reporter visited the monastery this week. The young man said he was interested in every new and novel thing.

Dawa said that hot pot was his favorite meal.

"Tsamba is still our staple food, but sometimes I go with other monks to a small restaurant for hot pot," said Dawa, in lightly accented Mandarin.

Tsamba, made of roasted barley and ghee (butter), is a traditional staple food for Tibetans.

"We eat less tsamba now, but not because we don't want it," said Dawa. "It is fatty and has a lot of calories, and we don't want to suffer from high cholesterol or high blood pressure."