To meet old friends is always a gift, a joy to the soul and heart which, with pleasure and enthusiasm, is accelerating and seems suddenly filled with joy to find again that face, that look, that voice. It was all a party to meet Mary, Zigor and Ibon. Between hugs and laughter we celebrated the beginning of an adventure together. Maria and Zigor arrived with their bikes from Kazakhstan, more than one year ago left pedaling Algeciras and since then we were eager to meet them and share with them this way of life that we have in common. Ibon arrived by plane ready to spend the month holiday savoring this velo-nomadism. He was the first to arrive to the hostal of Xinning where we had the appointment, and he brought somethings for us, and the new clothes that our sponsor “Ternua” sent to us. Clothes to stand better the cold weather that was waiting for us in the high-lands of Tibet, but also the warm weather of south-east Asia. The meeting was all a party and after organizing the last things, changeing the rim and shoppings we left the next day.
The first few days we were at the mercy of the rain. Determined to carry out the adventure in the high Tibetan lands and decided to get involved in their culture, began the days of shared pedaling.
We left China behind and little by little we could see more and in more details that these lands were already different, we climbed in height and everything became more green and at the same time less populated.
There began to appear the first Buddhist stupas and the faces, the clothes and the ways of doing and being of the people around us, were not Chinese anymore. Finally tibet.
This area of tibet surrendered to the Chinese invasion, and because of that the military control and police (although it is much more than in other Chinese areas) is less estrict and foreigners can travel free and unrestricted (apparent) this area though, a few kilometres further West all changes. The plan was to go south this area to Laos and the three months that we could get with the extensions of visas was enough to explore the Highlands and then descend to more tropical areas in the South of China called Yunnan.
As the days were passing and we were cycling more and more kilometers we were getting inside that land we have dreamed so many times about: the Tibetan plateau.
After the hardness of Mongolia and with so much to tell to each other, in the pedaling days we were riding the half of the kms we have planned , and in the breakfast and lunch times we were too calm, chatting and enjoying the company of our friends…stopping earlier and leaving later. what was going to be a challenge it became a holiday after the hardness of Mongolia.
Going through these lands in summer made us coincide with a multitude of festivals, meals and celebrations where we stopped to gossip, mingle and enjoy with them the good weather, the summer that is something to celebrate, the time to relax and enjoy in the Highlands, and so we did.
We couldn’t believe that nearly a month had passed since we met in Xinning, the days had passed really fast as we pedaled calm. It was time to leave the bikes in a small village in the highlands to go down to the big city to make the first visa extension that would allow us to continue our trip on the heights. The next part would be the hardest of the three months that we would take to reach the border with Laos and were looking forward the challenge, start pedaling and the four of us to cross the high ports that were waiting for us.
We are who make the plan but sometimes looks like the trip itself rebels against us and decides how and where we will go. Without the possibility of changing the route we find ourselves saying “yes, … it is ok”, while we keep going towards the only possibility we have.
That is what happened to us:
At the inmigration office we were told that since the 1st of july the inmigration and tourist regulation changed, restringing even more the time one foreinger could spend inside the country. We could get only one extension which would allow us to spend one more month in china. And the processing time was 9 days which means that we had to spend those days in Chengdu, one big city without the chance of moving to anywhere.
Only one moth was not enough to cross whole China and to arrive to Lao in the South-east Asia. Our plan to enjoy the Tibet for two months was a dream.
It was then when we decided to go to Hong Kong because is the place where easiest is to get a long visa and in a very short time, like 1 or 2 days. We took the train the next day and after 46 hours we arrived to the city. Entering in Hong Kong was so easy, just a matter of two minutes and a stamp. No questions, none chekings of lugagge. We got amazed to see that huge city converted in a big “Shopping mall”. It is bigger than Dubai!!!!!!
Tall towers, high skyscrapers in a city that to look at the horizon one must raise the eyes until the sky. Too much city and crowd for us but in one or two days everything would be ready and we would leave… or that was what we thought initially.
Everything went smooth as silk and harmonious until the new arrived to us: the Chinese granted the visa (just one month) to Maria and Zigor but they denied it to us Laura and Aitor alleging that we were we considered suspectious of having done something illegal in china…
¡¡¡¡¡¡…….!!!!!!! We could not believe that…!!
suspects? us? of what?, why?, how? and… so?, but… cannot be… do you?, are suspicious?, did we?, could it be possible?…but…aitor ” what the fuck!!!!!!!”
all of our questions got response: we were considered suspects because we spent two months in china previously. The apparent problem was not time but the place in which we had spent that time: Xinjiang province (the way we traveled from Kyrgyzstan to Mogolia), it is a politically problematic area (you can check the post where explain a little bit about the area). The mere fact of having been there two months makes us suspects and seemed to be sufficient reason for denying our visas.
So it was that we were in Hong Kong, without any possibility of entering back into china, where our bikes were and everything we carry. And… now that?
We were so lucky and we contacted Mark and King who hosted us for ten days. They are those kind of people who give as it was the only possibility for them, they give without expecting anything, and not only that, they introduced us to their people, making our stay more comfortable and complete.
One more time also we were so lucky, this time we were with our two friends Zigor and Maria, who got their visa because they did´t cycle that “sensitive area”. Plan C soon activated and after a handful of hours checking options, flights, countries, rains… we bought a plane ticket to Kuala Lumpur (the capital of Malaysia) which was the cheapest option.
For travelling by bicycle around the world one of the most important things to be is flexible, do not strive to make everything as one wants and to allow it to be, and accept with joy what comes, otherwise… you will not go so far.
María and Zigor decided to lose their visa and the oportunity of pedal the rest of Tibet in order to help us, in order to bring our bicycles to Kuala Lumpur. They had to juggle to be able to bring the 4 bikes and all the stuff inside the planes, in total 216 kg. After bargaining, waiting long hours, jumping sooooooo many obstacules they manage to bring all the stuff to Kuala Lumpur. So the chinese tale is over for looooooooooooooooooong time.
Yes, people, here we are… suddenly a jump into the South of Southeast Asia. More than 4000kms far from where we had planned to be.
Tibet was a sweet, tasty, delicious candy that lasted only seconds on our palate and that from one moment to another, it finished. We still are trying to get used to this change, with the map in front of us reinventing the travel, willing to pedal, to pass page and enjoy the tropics but for it before, we have to get to adapt to the sticky tropical heat, the mosquitos again… between mango and papaya… everything becomes easier.
Travel has changed direction and now we head nortward: Thailand, Cambodia and Laos are the next destinations and the path… itself will be building as in this tropical corner of the world, to travel is quite more simple.
Here we go!!!!!!!!