Lhasa today looks nothing like it did in the movie “7 Years in Tibet”. That’s no fault of the Tibetans of course. After the Chinese occupation started in 1949, they quickly set about move Tibet a “great step forward”. Yes there are modern conveniences like paved roads, plumbing, electricity, motorized vehicles, electronics, mobiles phones and the like, but it can be safely assumed that an independent Tibet would’ve eventually adopted many of these things if they wanted to. Today, Lhasa has the feel of a modern Chinese city. The infrastructure is unmistakably Chinese but the majority of the people are unmistakably Tibetan. The way they dress, look, and act is so different from Han Chinese that it’s very easy to differentiate who’s who.
Thankfully, one thing that hasn’t changed much is the Barkhor. There’s still prayer beads, Tibetan art, prayer flags and the like to be bought there. The flow of human traffic is still clockwise (other than the Chinese soldiers, who annoyingly always walk counter-clockwise). There are still pilgrims prostrating and people instinctively walk around them when they’re laid out on the ground. Incense, Chinese soldiers, Tibetan pilgrims, mountains, and cars honking. Got to love it.