A vast plateau bounded by the world’s highest mountain ranges, Tibet feels quite unlike anywhere else on the planet. Echoing the rise and fall of its ice-dusted skylines are whitewashed Buddhist monasteries, soaring above valley floors carpeted with barley fields, or overlooking turquoise lakes cradled by lunar-like steppes of barren slopes and ice peaks. In the west, vast grasslands and snow-deserts roll towards the borders of India and Nepal, dotted in summer with herds of yaks and nomad encampments, while to the east lie lush, pine-forested valleys where villages nestle beside rivers of crashing meltwater. Everywhere, strings of multi-coloured prayer flags flap cheerfully from wayside shrines and rooftops – evidence of a deep-rooted Buddhist culture that has proved astonishingly resilient to the changes Tibet has experienced over the past five decades.
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