A welcome to Chinese control

Zhangmuzhen Travel Blog

 › entry 14 of 33 › view all entries

A 5.30 start to get my bus for a week long trip in to Tibet.  Currently unable to get a Visa for Tibet without purchasing it through an agency, so gave up the idea of trying to do anything independantly. Pleasantly surprised to find my group wasn't a Saga holiday and all 12 of us in the 25-35 age range (3 Swede, 2 Norway, 2 US, 1 Kiwi, 1 Polish, 1 Ukraine, 1 Austrian). 

Set off along the same road to Bhaktapur before turning north after an hour following the path of the bright blue glacial river and its forested valleys to the Tibet border.  Made it to the border by 1 and disembarked bus to walk across the famous Friendship bridge linking the two countries (ironically no photos are allowed and the Chinese military make you stand in a line before physically stepping over a marking that defines now in Tibet).

  Immigration for Tibet in line with all Communist countries by very slow stages carried out with military precision.  Our group even had to pass through in the order we were listed on the personnel list.  All bags were screened and x-rayed 3 times with especial interest paid to books. We had been pre-warned that anything that showed Tibet as its own country e.g. Tibet guide book, or maps would be confiscated.   

4x4 jeeps waiting to meet us on the Tibet side and split up in to 3 groups of 4. I joined the 3 Swedes to start our Tibet adventure.  We got 200 metres before our first delay.  The Chinese military had closed the road to allow the continuation of the main highway.   Sat in our jeeps for an hour watching explosions up the road as they blew chunks out of the mountain.  Eventually made it over and got to the 1st border town for lunch at 4 where we had another 3 hours wait until the military opened the next section of the road.  Had time for a little wander around Zhangmu and some of group a little disappointed that the place looked Chinese and not Tibetan.  I was surprised how affluent everyone looked with the majority of people wearing jeans or other western clothes.  The shops looked to be making a good amount of trade.  7 came and went and queueing in line to make it to our 1st night stop, word came through that the military had extended the road closure until 10.30.  The group unanimously agreed with guide to find a hostel in Zhangmu and have an early start tomorrow to make up the 90 minutes driving lost on day 1.  Starting to feel ominous about how much Tibet we are going to see ! 

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Zhangmuzhen
photo by: andycox_is_now_in