They asked me again how I got here and where I had travelled from. OK I thought to myself best just keep it sketchy as possible. I explained that I had been travelling from
An official and stern voice replied ''do you know your visa is out of date by 1 day, and that you have travelled through 5 restricted areas closed to foreigners'' whoops! “really” I said. I was genuinely surprised that my Chinese visa was out of date. I remember applying for a two month one in
I wrote in my humblest of handwriting everything they wished, maybe he wanted to frame it as some sort of trophy. Anyhow I felt it was some sort of test, like a show of face. I had to lose face, so with my defeat the mood seemed to be lightened, obviously pleased with the victory and his trophy, he seemed cheerful now.
With that over with I was sure I would be on my way again shortly, now that I was armed with all the relevant paper work and could buy bus tickets, travel legally and relax a little, but a mountain of paper work followed, 12 documents, statements, detailed descriptions, of where, when, why, who, signed, triplicated, thumb printed, photographed and then was led to the police canteen for a short interlude. I had not eaten properly for a few days and was very pleased when a tray full of food turned up, all eyes were upon me from the other officers but they were cool and just curious. I waved at them all, joked a little and they smiled.
The Chinese and Tibetans have incredibly noisy eating habits, they don not seem to talk much when food is around and just get on with devouring bowls full of mostly, unrecognizable lumps of things that the noodles were trying to do their best to swim away from, making the chop stick chase even more of a challenge, stabbing at them for a while which I was quite happy to do until someone came and offered me a spoon. I joined the orchestra of slurping and spiting out bones on to the floor or passing dogs, small children and found it comfortable in the end not to be self conscious, it was good to slurp and chew and spit out anything you did not want on to the floor or anywhere else you felt inspired to spit at, it was normal, but what is normal anyway?
We finished our food but as I was still not a free man yet officially, my Tibetan captor asked me if I wanted to come with him on his duty whilst they continued to process the paper work, to extend my visa and grant me a travel permit. He was definitely more chilled out now, seemed more human now that all the formalities were over with. He asked me if I was a Christian, which was a common question that I am asked, yet they don not realize or find it strange how many of us in the west do not have any faith, or grow rice, or have seven wives and fifty children! for them this is very strange, everyone believes in something don’t they? Well I explained that many people do not and for me I do not need to know what I am but I like look at it all with interest and an open mind. The conversation turned towards Buddhism, as he was a devout follower of this philosophy and something which I find very peaceful and truthful of observations with, nature, balance and harmony, through meditation and understanding which ultimately leads to enlightenment, peace and release from human suffering, the weaknesses and traps of the flesh, desire, greed being key elements that trap us and is the cause of our unhappiness. I couldn’t agree more. Less is more for sure, travelling like this with just a bag, my tent something to cook, I never miss anything in fact I feel I have more somehow.
Love, light and peace, spirituality, yeah we are all connected in some intricate web of cause and effect, so I therefore I shook hands with my capture, that was my Karma I suppose. I thought about all that and reflected upon it for a moment, everything happens for a reason and the karma of it all. Well maybe I was lucky they caught me here and not much later at the border to
I have never been good with dealing with bits of paper, unless it meant drawing pictures on them, the ones with all these rules, regulations and demands. I have always hated those, not for want of being a rebel as I never mean anyone any harm, its just something that I have always felt to the core of my soul is wrong and I recoil away from it all in disgust, leaving me wanting to run away and hide. I don’t know why it has never felt normal for me. In my world there are no rules there is no need for them, rules were only made because of other people who have darkness in their hearts and have broken basic morality.
Back at the station, it took 4 people all day to complete the paper work. I thought the French were bad for formalities but these guys seemed to invent it. Finally I left at with my passport and just had to return tomorrow for the travel permit to be issued. I booked into a room and tried to get my thoughts back on track again, but somehow I felt violated like the purity and the freedom of travel had been compromised from all this bullshit, all this man power, paper work, expense, waste of time for what? All I want to do is travel from here to there across this planet that should not really have to belong to anyone, why we have to be so possessive, greedy, and suspicious? there should be certain rights for people who are nomadic or wish to be nomadic free to travel to traverse this beautiful planet, that I am sure if God exists this would be in his original design too! Just greed and fear in the hearts of others, that spoil it for those who wish no impact upon their surroundings.
''mans happiness and gladness lies in his struggle and the most valuable kind is to struggle for his ideals''
I don’t know who said this but it was a sticker I noticed that was on the side of the kettle in the police station, it seemed to strike a chord and the kettle made a particularly great cup of tea that day.