EP Military Checkpoints and Shangri-La

3/23
After two weeks paddling in Tibet and a flood of uncertainty over whether the crew could avoid detainment (though they entered Tibet legally) Trip, Andy, Adam and Travis reunited with me back in Feilasi.

View from Feilaisi

In the past few days, the military presence in the region has increased. As has happened in four other provinces outside of Tibet, the entire Diqin Prefecture, the next level above a county, had been closed to foreigners. In Feilaisi, this was becoming more and more apparent as the usual steady stream of visitors to the scenic village had slowed to a trickle.

View of the jeeps

Needless to say, I was getting worried about the rest of the crew so it was a relief to see the jeeps pull into Feilaisi at nine thirty at night. Not only had they made it out of Tibet with only a little difficulty but they had a great run on the Mekong. After a few hearty hugs and a couple of nerve-soothing beers, we spent the night in Feilaisi.


A view from the road.

That next morning, the entire crew headed toward Shangra-La, the largest Tibetan city in Yunnan. We’d heard rumors that the military was staging in De-chin as a control tactic, and check-points had been set up along the road to Tibet. This didn’t surface as a problem until about a half-hour from Shangri-La. As we wound our way up toward the last pass, a half dozen robe clad monks huddled beside the road before a military check-point. I’m not sure if it was in protest but that seemed to make sense. We were flagged to the side of the road, surrounded by camouflaged 18-year old soldiers and showed our passports to a handful of stern police. We don’t have photos of this, I expect you understand.

Listen to the audio update at the checkpoint.
After fifteen tense minutes, the drivers spoke to the police and we were waved through. They had told the officials that we were coming from Foshan County in Yunnan, not in Tibet as they actually had been, to avoid trouble.
Listen to Travis’s explanation of the driver’s inconsistency with their story.


Village on the way.

Now, we’re spending a day catching up on work in Shangri-La. putting in on a three-day scouting run of the Great Bend of the Yangtze for our larger trip in early April. Just to be clear, everybody is well, spirits are high and the political conflict in the region has affected us very little. Thanks for following.

Kyle

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~ by epicocity on March 23, 2008.

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