Friday, June 6, 2008

A "Penalty Decision" from China, 1987

My father dug up this little treasure and sent it to me. Seeing it, I chuckle. It's a "penalty decision" for trespassing into off-limit areas in China.

The town was Yecheng. It's about 200 kilometers south of Kashgar, and maybe 1,000 kilometers north of Tibet. My goal was to get into Tibet from Kashgar, and passing through Yecheng was the only efficient way to do it. The alternatives might have added 5,000 kilometers to the trip.

My traveling partner, Mani, and I found a hotel in Yecheng. It wasn't long before a policeman arrived and roused us (I feigned sleep when he entered the hotel room...somehow that wasn't an effective strategy). We were donkey-carted off to the police station where we were hit with the above penalty, which didn't amount to much by Western standards. Nobody could speak English, but the police were able to communicate by opening a little notebook in which handwritten explanations of various offenses were available in English. The manual was quite detailed...they even had foreseen the various objections that offenders might offer, with rebuttals following.

I was also asked to write an "auto-confession" apology to the People's Republic of China. I could have written just about anything, given the total lack of English skills. I wrote that my ancestors would be ashamed of me.

Back out on the street, we purchased bus tickets back to Kashgar for the following day. If the police accosted us, we could simply show the tickets as proof that we certainly planned to head north. Of course, we didn't. Around 4:00 in the morning, we exited the hotel. Unfortunately, there was a chain link fence surrounding the hotel, and we had to quietly bust open the gate to get out.

We wandered south for a couple hours before catching a truck heading into Tibet. That's another longggg story....

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