Tuesday, November 17, 2009


As we free wheeled down the 1000M from this pass, our main preoccupation should have been the great scenery we were passing. But instead our main concern was the nasty buckle that was increasing in Markus's front wheel. The spokes were all securely intact, so the main fear was a cracked wheel rim. When we got into the town of Guide, some helpful children walked us to a newly opened central hotel. At €3 for a twin room, it wasn't even worth bargaining and Markus took off his tyre to give his front rim a closer look. It was bad news. A 2" hairline crack in the centre of the rim meant it was only a matter of time before the entire wheel falls apart. It was looking most likely that he was going to be on a bus back to Xining in the morning, in search of a new wheel rim.It was about 10PM when the police first knocked on our bedroom door. We generally try to stay in the same hotels as the Chinese do, as the 'tourist hotels' are generally twice the price and just as awful. With their broken english and sign language, we understood they wanted us out of this hotel. We just pretended not to understand. We kept saying 'Xie Xie' (Thank you) and refused to move from our beds. If its one thing you quickly learn about the Chinese police, its that they don't give up. It was about an hour later,when they returned with the full Red Army, including the local english speaking school teacher, who was ordered out of her own bed to do her duty for her country. I've heard lots of stories of these pigs knocking on hotel doors at all hours of the night and ordering travellers out of their beds and into government sponsored hotels. Markus and I certainly had no intention of moving from our beds without wasting as much police time as possible. And so we sat in our beds, holding tightly to our bed sheets, in our room full of police, the hotel manager, the local school teacher,and I don't know how many more police were waiting in the hall. INTERPRETER: According to Chinese law you cannot stay in this hotel. MARK: But its a nice hotel and I like it and its late and I'm tired......... INTERPRETER: But according to Chinese law you cannot stay in this hotel. This continued for a long time and so I decided to call their bluff. MARK: OK. I'm happy here. But if Chinese law wants us to move to a different hotel, then Chinese law pays for it and a taxi to it.
It took me completely by surprise when, after a few minutes of police discussion, they actually agreed to pay for the taxi and hotel. But it left us with no option but to move. We collected our €3 from hotel No.1 and took the 1 minute taxi ride to hotel No.2. I always thought the reason police wanted tourists in over priced tourist hotels was so they could extort a commission from such hotels. But after last nights ordeal, this couldn't be the case. Either way, I was too exhausted from a hard days cycle and a stressful evening arguing to consider why hotel No.2 took precedent over hotel No.1. Tomorrow I was getting a lie on and Markus was on the bus back to Xining in search of a new wheel rim. He would return tomorrow evening with a suitable new wheel rim and this bike ride would continue south.

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