Eventually got all the China-entry process sorted, with only a couple more hours of sitting around in a government compound.
Thursday 9am – rode back out to the border/customs/etc area, but a new compound – where they checked engine numbers. And then – sat around for a couple of hours, before riding back to hotel… leaving afternoon to explore Kashgar.
Friday 5pm – finally received our China registration “plates” for each bike, and a provisional China Driving Licence – many with mistakes. Two have the photos swapped around, and Dickie is listed on his as being female.
But – Kashgar. yesterday, had a wander about – found a wee bar in the middle of the hat bazaar selling… 2 Epic beers from NZ, and one of my favourite scottish craft beers – the classic Punk IPA. Rather pleased… as were the bar staff/owners when they discovered I was from Xin-Xi-Lan.
Other than that… I don’t know how much I should write about Kashgar, the Xinjiang province, and the “Uighur Problem” in general.
When we first visited/lived-in China many years ago – I was quite surprised at how “open” it was, and how easy it was to travel around… I don’t think we had any paperwork/identities checked a single time. Xinjiang – is not like that. This is very much a police state… it is scarily similar to the fictional America in The Man in the High Castle. The police here are most definitely not here to “Protect and Serve”. They are a boot poised over the throat, ready to stamp down on the slightest hint of rebellion. And talking to a German guy I met at lunch today – Kashgar isn’t even the worst place.
It seems that every Chinese Han shopkeeper is effectively deputised into the police – and beyond having gated doors/windows, also have police-issued riot shield, helmet, flak-jacket; and self-provided blunt weapon (I’ve seen axe-handles, chunks of timber, and metal bidents (see below)), all ready-to-hand.
Riding around the roads – there are near-constant military and police checkpoints.
Walking the streets – there are MANY surveillance cameras. And a heavily fortified police station on nearly every block.
Police are everywhere, with many carrying U-shaped bidents – obviously designed to just keep somebody beyond arms-length, or push them up against a wall. Apparently some of these have stun-gun capability built in, but I haven’t seen that yet.
The local provider of razor-wire must be a wealthy man.
And obviously, taking photos to show the extent of what I’m talking about is… problematic, and rather unwise.