/ / : From Danba and back to Danba km
We headed north towards Barkam, planning to spend a night en route in Jinchuan. It rained a little, but the widening valley was welcoming spring and the fruit trees were in flower. The painted stone houses had turrets at the corners and a distinctive style of painting on the stone. We understand this is an area where the Tibetan style has been influenced by the Qiang people.
We passed a police checkpoint in mid-morning, where we served green tea as our passports were examined. When we reached the prefecture boundary, however, we encountered a larger and better-equipped police presence where we spent a little longer. We were served instant noodles while our passports were examined with care. We were informed that to proceed to the next prefecture would be “dangerous”, and that we should return to Danba. The next prefecture was now closed to foreigners.
We pedalled back to Danba, getting a different view of the valley. We returned to the hostel and asked the staff to put us in touch with the PSB so we could determine our travel options, but it seemed that PSB staff with appropriate language skills were unavailable. The PSB contacted us in our hotel room quite some time later, and the outcome was that our best (only?) choice was to catch the bus to Chengdu at: a.m..
(Addendum January 2010: The above text was written keeping in mind that the PSB was likely reading our blog. We were being extremely cautious about what we wrote, in our self-interest at the time. We knew we would need a visa renewal, and did not want trouble. After returning to Vancouver, we wrote in greater detail about this expulsion incident in Self-Censorship Removed.)
/ / : Bus to Chengdu
We made our way to the bus station in good time. The bus trip took hours, and our bikes were jammed into the luggage hold with other people’s bags piled on top of horizontal wheels to our dismay.
We called Mike, whom we’d met in Laos, from the bus. He and Dong had kindly invited us to contact them in Chengdu, but we’d recently told them we were planning to pass west of Chengdu, when our travels in Tibetan areas were going more smoothly. Mike and Dong leaped into action to make our arrival in Chengdu go well. What a difference they made!
Chris took this video clip mainly for the sound: