Crackdown fall 2002

At the time writing I'm in Kashi in western Xinjiang province. The reports I've gotten from other travelers are mostly negative. It seems like there is another crackdown going on, even if the news has been very contradictive sometimes. Some people had no problems whatsoever traveling along the Xinjiang Highway (Lhatze-Yecheng), while others didn't get anywhere, being arrested/kicked back/etc. by the PSB.
It also seems like there is a big difference traveling from the west or from the east. The ones coming from the east has experienced less or no problems, while the ones coming from the west has had loads of hassles and I have so far not met a cyclist who made it through to Kashi this season.

What follows is emails I have gotten from other travelers and some comments about the situation from my talks to people I've met here.

Lena and Amy. 2002 07 18

Lena and I did not manage to get to Lhasa via Ali so we went through Golmud instead. The first day we slept outside in a ditch near the Aba truck stop, being a little too over discreet, thinking we should not be seen! Then the next
morning we hitched a ride with two trucks and did not get so far waiting 6
hours on the side of the road. We then decided to head back to Aba and
arrange proper transport but fortunately our old hitch drove by and
organized a ride for us to Ali with a big blue truck. At the lunch stop the
question of permits arose and we explained to him that we would walk around
the first one if he could so kindly drop as before it. And he did drop us in the middle of bloody nowhere and it was wet and horrid and we were totally unsure what to do so we hitched a ride back to Aba in the hope that the next day we would arrange something with a bit more stability.

The next day we were under the impression that everything was fine and dandy
with a jeep. However waiting 4 times for 6 o'clock, (local time, Beijing time, the first day then the next morning and then that evening!!) for the jeep to turn up we realized I had my rose tinted spectacles on and had imagined the whole thing. What a disappointment so we headed to Aba again and then got the low down from this Chinese woman who explained that no drivers would take us with out a permit and they now have mobile checkpoints all along the road.
So there we go. I think it has become much tighter obviously due to 9-11 and
Kashmir and it's not Tibet but the authorities do not want any foreign
goobies in that area...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------Uli and Jeroen. 2002 08 01

We met a couple of cyclists in Lhasa, On the road, and in KMD.. ALL OF THEM
where caught in west Tibet, while trying to sneak in from Aksay Qin.
FIRST: The check post at RUTOG has been MOVED FORWARD ALONG THE LAKE AFTER A SHARP BLIND TURN!!!!!! All of them were sent to Ali! In Ali there is a
new PSB guy and not so friendly as the last one(s). They where forced to
pay for a truck/jeep that dropped them at Kodari (border Nepal friendship
highway) since the situation in west Nepal is too dangerous (Maoists) to
drop them at Purang. They all took a jeep from KMD to Lhatse to continue
their quests trough Tibet. It turned out to be very expensive for all of
Further: Since it is the year of the horse, kailash is flooded with
(rich) tourists and the west-Tibet PSB is playing mad to check all of
them, at all places..... (Not the best year to cycle trough west-Tibet!)
That's our latest information.... Good luck with your ride...You'll make
Jeroen And Ulli!


20020807 from ali

There's a new permit that all Chinese people need , to travel
on that road
maybe because of the situation in Kashmir. But with luck it might be possible,
but the truck drivers were to afraid to take us. Anyway I hitchhiked the
northern road to Ali and then to Kailash. The checkpoint in Lhatse is gone
since about three weeks. Saga has a very big checkpoint. But everything
change everyday here. I tell you more about my trip later.
Have a great journey!!

Well, the last mail is pretty bad, even the Chinese needs a permit...

All the three mails above are definitely pretty negative and contradicts the almost everything I've heard from two other travelers hitching from central Tibet to Kashi. They were stopped but the military at many occasions, but one for a casual passport check. They had no problems in the checkpoints either.

Also heard and unverified rumor, from two different sources, that the old rules may come back, or may even be in use for some parts of Tibet. That is: NO individual traveling except for some parts of the central areas. You have to travel in a group of at least five persons. Period!

On top of all this, I met an Italian cyclist today, who had been stopped by sever flooding. Great!

Off for the highlands tomorrow!