As modern technologies and appliances are being introduced into the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, the lifestyle of the residents has been fundamentally changed.
For several thousand years, dry cow dung was used by Tibetans as their major fuel, and even in the 1970s there were still dung vendors to sell their goods on streets in Lhasa, capital city of the region.
However, things have dramatically changed in recent decades.
Now electrical and gas furnaces have entered the ordinary households of Lhasa, and moreover, solar and wind energy have been widely used in Tibet, with most of its rural households equipped with solar power furnaces.
Cows, which used to be an indispensable tool for Tibetan farmers to sow and harvest, have now been replaced by tractors, croppers and other agricultural machines.
In the 1960s, the replacement of wood ploughs by iron ones in Tibet captured the headlines, but today it is not surprising for a single household to buy a tractor or truck.
According to statistics, every 100 Tibetan rural households on average possess nine trucks, six tractors and three threshing machines, and thus farm work in Tibet is becoming increasingly mechanized.
Diversified high-quality seeds and pesticides are also becoming popular in Tibet, which has helped improve the grain yield by a large margin.
In addition, a highway network has been developed in the pastoral areas in northern part of Tibet, and riding motorcycle to watch cattle to graze on grassland has become fashionable for youngsters.
During the old days, Tibetan women had to give birth in cold and dirty animal sheds, which led to many new-born babies contracting the measles and other contagious diseases.
Today, Tibetan women can see a doctor at any time, and they often take their children for medical examinations and seek consultations at various hospitals.
There are 46 maternity and child health centers and 11 state- and internationally-aided infant hospitals in Tibet.
In addition, over 2,000 doctors specializing in the health of women and children are working in the vast farming and stockbreeding areas of the region.
Televisions and telephones have now been installed in ordinary Tibetan houses, narrowing the distance between the "roof of the world" and the outside world. Moreover, there are 5,000 Internet users in Tibet, according to sources.
The Tibetan religious life has also been dramatically influenced by the wide application of modern technologies.
For instance, when Tibetans were caught ill in the past, the first thing they would do was hurry to a temple to let the Lamas chant Buddhist scriptures for their illness, while today the Lamas immediately send patients to hospital for an examination.
Even more interesting is that many wizards that used to pray for rain have now become good at launching meteorological rockets into the sky to help produce artificial rain.
(People's Daily 05/28/2001)