I cycle, I'm in the back, I see Daniele stopped by a military along the way. He had the GoPro on. You can not take pictures here. Okay, so we apologize, turn on the PC, show the latest photos and delete it, are you happy? We think it's over then but the guy who stopped us is a little boy who only speaks Chinese, he doesn't really know what to do. Call someone, his "boss" I guess, that speaks a little English. He says that we are in a "forbidden" area, but there's no sign to tell us and are given places of interest everywhere, in English. After a verbal fight and a nice shove trimmed to one that kept touching the bikes the boss says we need to do some statement of apology for being there (?), that's fine, if that's what they want. Here comes the police car, escorts us to the office where we declare our entire itinerary so far and that we did not know that this city was forbidden to foreigners. Then why we have not yet figured out, probably for the minorities living there and ghostly military zones about whose those cops kept talking about. And there should also be a nuclear power plant nearby, maybe not just a power plant. And then the fact that we passed through the Xinjiang just does not befriend them more. In fact in China you could not go on your own, the idea of traveling without organized tours do not fit in the government idea of tourism. You are swept up in the tourist location from X and then Y but you cannot see what there is in between. At least in this area of China where minorities are not 100% under control and military experiments are going on.
He says he will call us here tomorrow to tell us when we can take our things back. The next day no one calls, is Friday. Let's go directly to the police office and our "friend" tells there's lot of stuff to check, who would have thought! Our things are in another office responsible for monitoring, the famous Chinese censors army maybe, he called them but they did not work on the weekend so we have to wait until Monday. WTF. Since they have our passports we can not go anywhere, bikes are there and we are forced to pay the hostel. Could accommodate them at least! We'll have a happy weekend in the capital of Qinghai.
Xining is full of shops selling Caterpillar Fungus. We met those several times since Urumqi and we had not yet figured out what it was. It's the stuff the nomads tried to sell us after the pass a few days ago. In practice it is a caterpillar dead because of a fungus that comes out of his head. Located in the mountains above 3000msl, is gatheres in the month of May (it is explained by the owner of the hostel) and costs a lot, from 3000 to 50.000$ a kg. It contributed in 2004 as 8.5% of the Tibet GDP. According to Tibetan medicine it is good at almost everything, from virility to cancer treatment.
The temple is unknown to tourism fortunately, is free and so authentic. The last part of the road is unpaved but they are asphalting, a sign that soon there will be a parking lot and you will pay even here. We buy the yogurt yak milk with sugar over by some ladies out of the temple. We are at an altitude of 2800 meters, the temple is wonderful, in the mountains, from the top you see the golden roof of the main temple. The monks are really nice and one of them wants to show us a video in English of a living Buddha but can not find it in the phone. We are statled when we realize the Chinese girl (the student) does not even know who Buddha is. For real. Around 17 we go. We take a taxi and then the bus back to Xining. We eat a rubberish ball covered with sesame seeds and prepare our things for the next day by train. At 21:45 we take a taxi to the station, our bikes are now half way.