1. The colonising Chinese in Labrang nearly all treat the indigenous Tibetans as sub-human scum. They have many dirogatory phrases which are constantly used to disparage and insult Tibetans eg. dirty barbarian, unclean flea. Doesn't sound like much? Words like "kafir" as used in apertheid era South Africa don't sound too bad out of context. But believe me they hurt Tibetans deeply. Obviously Labrang is no worse off than anywhere else in Tibet but Labrang is becoming something of a tourist centre and most visitors come and stay for a few days and on the surface everything seems hunky-dory. Unfortunately if you believe this you are just falling into the Chinese trap.
2. As of 6/11/07 foreigners have been banned from using the internet in Labrang. All the hotel and internet bar owners have had the frighteners put on them and will turn you away if you try to use the internet. I do not know if this is only in Labrang or in the rest of Tibet.
3. According to the Labrang PSB (Police) foreigners are only allowed to stay in one place in China for a maximum of 15 days even if their visa is for a far longer period. After 15 days they must leave for "Beijing or Chengdu". Foreigners who have been in Labrang for more than 15 days are currently being "persuaded' to leave.
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GANSU PROVINCE : BUS INSURANCE SCAM
Gansu Province, where Xiahe is located, is the troublesome province that has a rule that all foreigners must purchase bus 'insurance' to travel on buses within the province.
This came about because years ago, a tourist died in a road accident in Gansu and his family sued the bus company.
So, while tourists are made to purchase the bus 'insurance' of around Y40, it actually appears to be more like an INDEMNITY against the bus companies for with this 'insurance', tourists CANNOT sue the bus companies in the event of an accident.
If you try and buy bus-tickets from ticket-windows, the ticket sellers may actually refuse to sell you the tickets if you fail to produce the insurance and if you refuse to pay for the insurance.
Sometimes, they just jack the price up to more than double before selling you the tickets.
If you are up for it, try and stand outside the bus-station and wave the bus down after it has pulled out of the bus-station. However, buses can be pretty packed by then.
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