We’re now in Xining, which is the capitol city of the Qinghai Province in China. This city is approx halfway on our bike journey between Ulan Bator and Kathmandu.
From Lanzhou to Xining
We had expected a lot of pollution on the way up the valley to Xining, but were again pleasantly surprised by how clean it actually was. In the area around some of the towns pollution was noticeable, but luckily it was just local. We did see several factories that were no longer in operation and assume that the problems with pollution had been much greater before.
The distance from Lanzhou to Xining is about 240 km. It took us two days to do that stretch. On the last day, we biked a record-breaking 150 km. About 30 km before Xining, Eric was forced to change his rear tire to one of the new ones we had bought in Hong Kong. His was completely worn down. Sigbjorn had had to change his back tire the same day we left Lanzhou. So we’ve already used two of the tires we got in Hong Kong. Hopefully, these will last longer than the old ones had, which was about 3000 km.
The road towards Golmud
After getting in touch with the PSB (Immigration Police) and the official tourist office in Xining, we’ve learned that we cannot bike to Lhasa officially. We can bike as far as Golmud, but the road from Golmud to Lhasa is only accessible to foreigners if they buy a very expensive bus ticket. An ordinary bus fare from Xining to Lhasa for the Chinese is 430Y. Foreigners have to buy a package deal costing 1700Y per person. The deal includes a permit, busfare, a guide for 4 days in Lhasa, and 4 nights at a hotel. It would seem that the Chinese authorities want to oversee foreign visitors completely.
We are planning on biking to Golmud. When we get there, we’ll decide what our next step will be. The worst that can happen is that we’ll have to pay 1700Y for a bus ticket to Lhasa.
We’re not sure if there are any Internet cafés on the way to Lhasa. We know there’s one in Golmud, but it’s not sure we’ll stop there. So we don’t know if we’ll be able to send back any reports along the way. We expect it will take us 10-12 days to get to Golmud, and another 20 days maximum from Golmud to Lhasa.