We were finally “released” in Urumqi (we had to fly here from Kashgar) with our passport free to continue our travel. I know you are anxious to know all the details of our week with the PSB but first I want to share with you this amazing month of cycling through western Xinjiang province and into Tibet and give you some background information on this “famous” route.
After our great journey through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the plan was to cycle from Kashgar to Kathmandu, Nepal. 2500km through one of the hardest cycling route in the world. This route is described as the Western Tibet route. The trailblazer guide Himalaya by bike gives a good description of the road. (note: the author has not cycled the road but gather info from other cyclists who did it!)
|How to resist the temptation of cycling this amazing route!|
|Great camping spot...just a little cold in the morning!|
After completing the “eastern route” in 2005 (www.celineandsteve.com) I really wanted to do the “western route” one day but unfortunately in the meantime things have changed in China (for the worst!) until 2007 the western route was illegal but the PSB didn’t enforce the law like they did in the east so many cyclist did it without having to “hide” and pass the checkpoint in the middle of the night like we had to do in the East. They would pay a fine in Ali and get a permit to continue their journey to Lhasa or to Nepal. No big deal! Since 2008 (Year of the Olympic and trouble in Tibet) they have decided that ONLY group with guide, jeep driver and permits would be allowed on the road so in 2008 and 2009 cyclists were stopped at the first checkpoint and denied access to continue. We were hoping that in 2010 things would slowly return to “normal” and the Chinese authorities would start to “relax” again but believe me they are NOT relaxing at all!!!! They are chasing cyclists with great pleasure! On our way to the “illegal” road we met a Spanish cyclist who had been caught by the PSB a couple of days in, had to pay the fine and was asked to cycling back to Kashgar. This sounded like an acceptable risk for us. It was not looking too good but we decided to give it a shot and see how far WE could go......
More coming soon...
|Pierre looking at the long road ahead|
|Fall colors in Xinjiang|