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Highway to Tibet: big brother is watching

Three masked soldiers with machine guns stood in middle of the road. The message was clear, there was no need of words or signs: "Stop!" At least twenty military transporters bypassed us slowly ascending up to the west, towards the Tibetan part of Sichuan. Who knows where was their final destination.

"Good, that we are going in the opposite direction", I thought. Something bad was happening up there in past few days. Up in the mountains it was the first time I could taste the bitter taste of "freedom".

For a foreigner, life in China doesn't appear that much different to life in any other democratic Asian country. And yes, likely for 95% of Chinese this is true. Yes, there are some rules which are on the edge. But mostly, those rules make sense when looking at the bigger picture: like the Hukou system for example. Even the Chinese firewall, no matter how evil it is, is more beneficial for Chinese (at least in economical terms) than it appears.

It was a small town Maerkan where it started. Being thoroughly checked three times on a single street in 500 meters seemed strange at first. They copied our passports, took a picture of our car, asked us few questions. Later, it turned out that this was no exception.

The next day, staying ovenight at a village Muerzong, we were fetched to the police station. I woke up earlier to climb up to the monastery, a policeman with a shotgun was waiting for me half-way up. It took more than an hour. But I must admit, these officers were extremely friendly and even gave us a ride couple of kilometers..

Big brother is watching

All in all, police checkpoints were everywhere. The smallest villages had its own police station and CCTVs on each corner. Sometimes, one could even see a military base. I was checked millions of times, once they even looked through my camera pictures. At first I was like "Good luck, getting through all 2500 pictures." Then I realized that I was taking video of soldiers at one of the checkpoints earlier on the trip. This got me really scared. Pretty stupid. They didn't think I was a spy fortunately, yet I had to delete the pictures.

Chinese police boxes deployed everywhere in Tibet

Also the communication was off due to the Dalailama birthday: the Internet, international calls/messages, and domestic messages. Moreover some Tibetan villages were closed, taped with police tape as you know from a crime scene.


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