Kashgar, 8th September
Day 1: At 10am we’re at the Kyrgyz border: some 15’ and off we are on the 6km long road thru the highly disputed area to the Chinese check post. No question whether we are allowed to cross this area. We arrive at the gate to China. It’s open; we only have to wait for our guide. Other tourists are received by their guides after a short while, some have to wait a few minutes more. We’re definitely in the 2nd category. A German overlander joins us. Also waiting. Later on the gate closes – lunch break; 2½ h.
At 4.30h Beijing time a guy arrives, telling us that he’s called Alipu and has the honour to guide our 2 cars to Kashgar. The authorities check all kind of papers. Time to enter China. A little further another check point. They check the same as the 1st 1. Then some 120km to the immigration’n’customs post. No way to stop or to take pics along the road. At the post – by now pretty late – we get the passports stamped within minutes. Customs inspects our cars – today any dairy products seem to be strictly forbidden in China. Time to separate from our 4 yoghurt drinks. And that’s it. And now, the final issue: only the superior of all custom officers has to give his ok – and all finished; that would be all. Unfortunately it takes some time to find him. Finally, he arrives. By now it’s 8 pm. Time to close customs. So we have to leave the cars overnight in the good hands of the customs and drive with our guide to Kashgar.
We approach the town, admire the beautifully illuminated buildings and finally celebrate the labyrinthine procedures of administration with some Chinese beers.
Day 2: The next morning we learn that customs requires another all-important document that will be established immediately. At 4pm our guide picks it up at customs office in town and we drive back the 40km to see our cars. Then it’s pretty fast: searching the customs boss, waiting for him, the guide together with the boss searching quite a while for all kind of documents, some computer work and we drive our cars to Kashgar. A little outside town we have to stop. It seems there’s another problem. We don’t have our Chinese number plates yet. So officially no right to enter town – the all present cameras would detect us. By 8pm we sneak with our cars to a courtyard behind the hotel. Avoiding all contact to the ever present police, trying to avoid all traffic cameras as much as possible. Then another opportunity to celebrate: the arrival of our cars.
Day 3: It’s a Saturday afternoon. Still neither driving licences nor number plates. And the whole of next week will be a public holiday. So we have to inform our travel agent tibetmoto. They react immediately. Some phone calls with them, some mail exchange and we’re assured that we’ll leave Kashgar as planned on Monday. More opportunities for our guide to promise the immediate arrival of our number plates at least 5 times in the afternoon’n’evening.
Day 4: In the morning no news. By noon we’re informed that we’ll receive all we need in the evening. 8pm – the number plates are next to be delivered. The only problem remaining is an open bill of 2000 RMB. Unfortunately the local travel agency cannot get this amount right now. We should simply advance it. We’re promised to have it back by tomorrow morning. After long discussions, reflections and being totally aware of making a huge mistake our guide receives the amount. Then: time for a beer.
Day 5: 11am – we’re informed that our Chinese number plates will arrive within 5’. 12am – they really arrive. According to the guide the advanced money we should get at today’s final destination. Of course not exactly our idea of making business. We decide not to leave the hotel until all is paid back. This is followed by nervous activities, phone calls and promises of our guide. 2pm – still on our fund raising activities. We inform our travel agency. They react immediately, call the guy and promise us to reimburse should their effort not succeed. 2.30 pm. A grumpy guy reimburses the 2000 RMB; we’re on our way. 3h later we arrive in Kargilik where our Tibetan guide awaits us. The goodbye to our 1st guide is pretty short and slightly frosty.