You are in a restricted area!

The Anglophone group are now in the city of Zhangijiajie, hoping to visit the Wulingyuan Fengjinsqu (nature reserve or scenic area) tomorrow.

Our route from Shanghai has taken us through Hangzhou (were we parked unnoticed at the Zhejiang Hotel) and Huang Shan (where we parked at the Yi Long Hotel, 80 Yuan per van per night). In between we have wild camped by rivers, in unopened expressway service areas and in an abandoned fuel station.

In addition to some spectacular mountain scenery and some truly boring roads the two unexpected incidents since Shanghai have been having our guide fined for taking us into a "restricted area" and being stuck in a mountain traffic jam.

Our route in China had to be agreed months in advance, and unless we get permission from China Swan we must stick to it. Our route is defined in our contract with China Comfort as a series of towns and we are expected to take the most direct route between them. Until now this had not been a problem.

Our contract with China Comfort defined our route as:-

...Hangzhou - Huangshan - Jiuhuashan - Huangshan - Jiujiang...

That is, after a detour from Huangshan to Jiuhuashan we must return to Huangshan and then go to Jiujiang. However the route that China Swan had agreed with the Chinese authorities was:-

On day 27, Hangzhou - Huangshan and on day 29 Huangshan - Jiuhuashan - Jiujiang, without returning to Huangshan!

On the 29th of August our China Swan guide (Gong) followed the route agreed with China Comfort from Huangshan to Jiujiang, without telling us that this was not the route agreed with the Chinese authorities. As a result he took us into the town of Qimen where we were surrounded by police and our guide "detained" for over an hour. On his return he told us that Qimen was a "restricted area" and that he had been fined 500 Yuan (about $62USA). We were then escorted by the police out of the restricted area.

Gong later asked us to reimburse the 500 Yuan to him because "it was our fault"! We declined.

After this incident we e-mailed China Swan to express our concern and received the following reply:-

Thank you for your e-mail of explanation about the police affair on August 29th.

The police office phone to me in order to investigate this affair but it seemed that it is quite simple and not so favorable to our side. Qimen is non-open area and also not listed in your permitted route. I have been said that you must according the route travelling, so I think I don't need to mention about it any more.

So, only if you according to the permitted route, it won't happened. It is usual that permitted route via some non-open areas, because the police office will entitle you Aliens travel permit to those areas who travel to there. Your guide's (Ren Gang) certificate also have these certificates. Now you still haven't travel with the French group, once French group via the non-open area, they will also fined because of without Aliens travel permit. So please consider this serious question and travel with French together as soon as possible. The final travel route is based on the permitted certificate. So if you want to know on your way to travel is there any other non-open areas, please ask your guide and there all listed on your Aliens travel permit.

At last wish you a pleasant journey!

Yang Niandong
Manager of the Special Tours Department of China Swan.

The second unexpected incident was on the mountain road between Cili and Zhangijiajie where we found ourselves joining a stationary queue of traffic. Gong enquired about the cause of the queue and told us that a truck had broken down a long way ahead ("too far to walk").

On walking 100 metres up the road the cause of the holdup became obvious. A recent rock slide had reduced the road to one lane and a truck, presumably going too fast, had misjudged the gap in the fallen rocks, hit one and broken its front right hand spring mountings. As a result the truck was well and truly stuck with a rock fall on one side and five metre drop on the other.

With the aid of several jacks balanced precariously on rocks, a few baulks of timber and some very insubstantial bolts the suspension was levered back into alignment and "repaired". After an hour the truck roared off and the traffic jam sorted itself out.

Stephen Stewart.

Home - This page last changed on 2002-09-02.