LHASA, June 6 -- When 40-year-old Pu Drugar recalls his days working as a porter in southeastern Tibet's Medog County, he remembers nothing more than the hardship.
Medog, which is south of the eastern section of the Himalayas, features steep mountains and deep valleys. It was China's last county to gain road access due to the rugged terrain.
Before a highway linking Medog with neighboring Bome County finally opened in October, porters were considered indispensable, as they would transport daily living necessities by foot or guide children.
Pu's life has changed since trucks replaced manual labor as a form of transport following the opening of the highway.
"Life was difficult back then, but I had no other choice," Pu said.
"Once I was guiding a group of children on holiday from Mainling to Medog. We encountered this huge snowstorm. The snow hit our faces like needles and the visibility was very low. We got lost," he said. "I was so anxious. We thought we could die."
Pu and the children finally made it to a village to take shelter.
Pu, who had been a porter from age 13, now owns a sand factory.
He and his family live in a 150-square-meter apartment and own several vehicles. "The factory made more than 300,000 yuan (about 47,980 U.S.dollars) last year, and we are expecting more," said Pu.
In Medog, almost all middle-aged men used to work as porters, said Tenzin Gyatso, another former porter.
"The hardship will never be forgotten. When I was a porter I was young and eager to make more money for my family. When others carried 35 kilograms of goods, I would carry 40. I used to cry on my way," Tanzin said.
"One time there was an avalanche. I heard a sound and I started to run. Another porter was buried, but luckily I saw his clothes and I dragged him out," he said.
Tanzin has two children. He has opened a hotel, which made more than 40,000 yuan last year.
"Sometimes the hotel's really busy and I feel tired, but when I recall my old days as a porter, I regain the strength to overcome things," Tanzin said.