2001-10-29 The PSB is cracking down on cyclists in Tibet.

Some bad news for everyone who plan to go for some independent and rougish traveling in the Tibetan parts of China.
I have gotten emails from various parts of Tibet/Xizang and Xinjiang from cyclists and other travelers who have experienced a very tight control. 
Many of those I have gotten in touch with have been arrested and fined. Some have been sent back to the last major city which is open to foreigners.
Others have been forced to pay extortionate prices for a "tour package".
I don't have the full story, but it seems like the "Southern Route" - Kashi - Lhatze is under very tight control. PSB is roaming the roads all the way from Mazar to Lhatze. One couple was even caught some odd 10 km outside Yecheng hitchhiking.
Got emails from two different sources about crackdowns on the Friendship Highway.
Two guys on bikes have have made it from Golmud to Nagqu without problems, but that's the only positive report I have gotten during the last weeks.

In order to not give second or third hand info (or whatever it can be called?), I will put some of the emails I have recieved on the web unaltered, as far as the relevant parts goes.
Haven't got the permission to publish some of them and therefore I will change all the names in those emails to xxx.

I'm grateful to anyone who send me news about this matter and I will try to update this section as soon as I have anything new. 

Some of the emails I have recieved - addressed directly to me or forwarded.

Hi, ....I m in ALi, a lots of trouble now. If you don't need a visa don't go to the PSB because the situation has change since the war. They will ask you to come back and maybe take your paseport until you find a truck to come back. They did this with a isralian and a japonese. If they ask where you come from, it's better to say from lhasa. There's many people with bicycle all gets probleme. Everybody had to book a jeep with guide to go to nepal becasue now lhasa is close. The price for a jeep is 10 000 yuan no more expensive but no choice. I live tomorrow with 9 others foreigners (4 bicycles) we are going to kailash, manasarovar and zangmu (border) 10 days in total. There a bus on 20th on october in the big cross, they are agree to take foreigners for 500y if your ashort with your vsa maybe it's good option, Tibetan travel agency can't take tourist now. I was in Ali guesthouse room 120 y for 2 ask for 60 y everybody paid this price. Take care, sorry for my english. XXX. (if you want news about south raod tell me) after i want to try to reach > Lhasa hitchiking. 

> i get caught yesterday at about 3 km after roadmarker > 915, could continue 10 km till new rutok, there i met > the kiwis on bicycle. no chance to send you an alert > from new rutok, most time we spent at psb, most trucks > seems to go in direction to ali. we had to go by truck > to ali, arrived at midnight and are actually staying > in a bad hotel on a corner of the main crossing (with > traffic light). do not go to psb if you can avoid! no > way to get single permit, just jeep option, one jeep > to nepali border 10.000 yuen! > i am a little bit anoid. > hope to see you again. > ciao! > XXX

Hey Guy's We are in Ali now..yes they have internet here noiw. I send you this short mail, because you are in contact with some people who are traveling ore planning to travel in Tibet. Everything is closed here know. PSB is roaming the roads from Mazar all the way to Lhatze. We were caught at a new chequepoint before Rutog. Tese guy's gave us a hard time. Here in Ali, you still pay the 350 Yuan fine and are forsed on a tour to Kathmandu. Also Lhas ia closed because the 11th september. PSB in Ali set out many checkposts and all the villages are on allert to send all tourists to Ali back. We tried but failed....at least for the moment. We will see what happens next. The route from kashi to here was awesome and we are glad we have don at least this part. See what happens next Just would let to know this to you. greatings Luc and Rudi 

Ali, Tibet > Mile no 8678 > > Hi guys > > we are now in ali stuck while we sort out a forward > route hahahahahaha > > Not sure whether you got nabbed by them in Rutok. > Hopefully not but if you check this first dont go to > the PSB as they will tell you further cycling is not > possible plus charge you 350 for nothing. > > we are either in the hotel on the corner of the main > crossroads as you come into town, diagonally across, > behind the pale lemon doors. and up the 2 flights of > spiral stairs, room 306. We are with Joachim, if not > there then we will be in ali hotel/guesthouse which is > a little better but more expensive. It is on the left > about 500 metres down towards the telecom hotel (very > expensive) > > Look forward to meeting/catching up with you. > > Ciao for now > XXX and XXX

hallo Radlerfreunde, > bis Darchen, am Fusse des Kailash konnten wir berhzt durch das Land radeln. > Teilweise nahmen wir einen Truck zur Unterstuetzung, wenn uns die Ruettelei > und schuettelei zuviel wurde. Leider wurden wir in Darchen von einem > PSB-beamten aufgegriffen, natuerlich hatten wir kein offizielles Permit und > wurden zurueck nach Ali geschickt. Seit den Angriffen auf Afghanistan hat > sich hier einiges geaendert, man darf nur noch als organisierte Gruppe via > Jeep=Guide reisen. Es gibt keine Chance dies zu umgehen. Zwischen Darchen > und Zhamnu (nep. Grenze) sind 5 Checkposts, die alle die Order haben, einen > nach Ali zurueckzuschicken. > Jetzt sitzen wir hier in diesem "Einkaufscentre" Ali in the middle of > nothing und hoffen auf 3 weitere Individuells, die mit uns eine Gruppe > bilden und horrende 10.000 Yuan fuer einen Jeep aufbringen wollen. Bisher > kamem uns nur Horrorgeschichten zu Ohren, Fakt ist - man wird nur abgezockt > ohne Gegenleistung oder gar Serviceleistung. > Hoffentlich seit ihr bisher unbeschadet durchgekommen, vor allem sturzfrei > und habt super Eindruecke eingesammelt. > Dies war die 1. Meldung vom Vorradlerteam aus Ali - > liebe Gruesse XXX&XXX

Hi Janne.
Everything seems pritty closed here. I don't think there is a chance to escape from here.
The two tibetan guy's who work at the PSB (and are normaly very frendly and helpful) say that they roam all the roads from mazar on to Lhatze.
They have new orders that everything is closed. Saying this, all the militairy and police know this aswell, and can earn lot's of money to stop cyclists and put them on a truck. That's what happened to us aswel. Had to pay 300 yuan each for the 100 km from Rutog to Ali. The bastards. Now, we could manage to arrange a tour from here to kathmandu for 2000 Yuan each. much cheaper than the others. So I think we do this.

Might hang around in Kathmandu and nothern India and try again in March, I mail you back from kathmandu, because i have to say that I don't realy have the guts unther this conditions to escape here and risk more fines and eventuly have to arrange transport on my own to kathmandu. I don't think more tourists will arrive here, because they stop (catch) eveyone in mazar at the moment. greating from us.

Luc, XXX, XXX, XXX, XXX and me.

And last...I got mail from a guy from Shigatze, who is on his way to Katmandu. He got a 10-day permit (100Y) and got the go ahead to cycle on. Two weeks ago, I got another mail from Shigatze, from a couple who had been arrested and fined heavily. They were caught on the way to Lhatze and had not applied for a permit. Maybe that's the difference...

If you want first hadn info about what happened in West Tibet, check out Rudi's and Luc's site or mail them for questions.