Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Rescued" from Tibet

According to the Chinese English language newspaper China Daily, I was along with almost 600 other tourists "rescued" from Tibet on Saturday. Forced out is more accurate description. We were given one option: leave Tibet.

By the time we woke on Saturday AM, the Chinese military was well on its way to imposing martial law. The roads were blocked. Our Tibetan guide and our driver were unable to reach us at our hotel. We were told not to leave the hotel under any circumstances because it was unsafe. I didn't feel unsafe. I could see out the window of my hotel some military and local Chinese people standing around smoking cigarettes.

Mid-morning a Chinese woman called to say we had to leave Tibet and she asked us where we wanted to go. I didn't want to answer so I told her I'd call back when I had decided what to do. Well, by that point all phone services in our hotel had been cut off. My internet connection was also cut off. I found one working phone at the hotel reception desk so I called my cousin in Beijing. He gave me good advice and agreed to call my family to let them know I was safe.

Around lunch time a woman came up to our rooms and said we had to be at a meeting in the lobby in 5 minutes and to bring all of our luggage. There were 7 Americans and Canadians and 3 Lithuanians they were trying to get out of our hotel to go to the airport. Since the roads were blocked, we had to carry our luggage a few blocks to go meet the vehicles that were going to take us to the airport. We saw that most of the shops were closed. People, all Chinese, were hanging around on the streets talking and smoking. It didn't seem particularly tense, but we were in a Chinese area with few if any Tibetans.

We could also see lines of military police in riot gear guarding the streets. We saw the military personnel carriers too. I took some pictures.

Even though we were not in any immediate danger, the whole experience was traumatic! Being in a place while martial law is imposed is not fun. Plus I am deeply worried for the future of Tibet and broken-hearted that people will suffer. It is disappointing that I didn't get to see the places I've dreamt of seeing for years. Finally, I am still in need of a vacation!!

I'm glad to be home, but I intend to go back to Tibet one day.


Vera said...

The plight of those people never ceases to break my heart..glad you're safe tho...some little blessing were sent your way...

Ann said...

I am so impressed that you even went to Tibet, much less endured what must have been a grueling experience. I'm glad you're back safe and feel so sorry for Tibet.
The Kitchen

Marsosudiro said...

Welcome back. I'm glad you're safe. And I hope the same, some day, preferably soon, for the country you just visited.

Sandra said...

Well, I'm very glad you are back too! Love your blog. /sandy

Anonymous said...


What an experience! When we are sitting together on the front porch in rocking chairs, that will be quite the story to re-tell! I am glad you mad it home safely.


David said...

Thanks for sharing that. It must have been terrifying to have been caught in that. Here's hoping you return in better circumstances