China is a very difficult country to tour by bicycle. A combination of vast distances, visa limits, government control and the need for registered accommodation meant that any hope we may have had of exploring this mystical country and its epic history were dashed on our first day. We were lucky to be there. Very few foreigners are able to apply for Chinese tourist visas from anywhere other than their home country. When we first discovered this we feared that we would have to
Link to interactive route map for China here. In hindsight, Xining was a fine city to wait in for a visa extension. We enjoyed some western creature comforts, made plans for Christmas and casually toured some of the local sights. 7 days became 10 but finally we received new visas with 30 extra days. That sounds like a lot of days, but when one considers the thought of cycling to Laos from where we had waited, 2700km is a long way to pedal. Especially given the gradients of a
700 kilometres in a week from the Kazakh border to Urumqi, the capital of the Xingyiang Uyghur Autonomous region. Link to interactive route map for China here. Bikes and police - sums up this section of the journey pretty well A disclaimer first : This blog post is subjective. It is purely one westerners view of another land. My norms are not other people's norms. This is simply an observation - not a judgement.
I have never been to a place that made me feel so uncomfortabl