09-18 Day 70 (Chinese drivers license)

More delays, wasted time, frustration, but finally, the license


Travel FromKashgar, China
Intermediate LocationLicense & registration
Ending LocationKashgar, China
Starting Odometer33,427
Ending Odometer33,478
Miles Driven Today51 Miles
Total Trip Mileage8935 Miles
Countries visited Today 
Countries visited on trip US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China

Recap of today’s events

Trying to get the license

In order to ride a motorcycle in China, you cannot simply own, and present your valid drivers license from another country, you must be licensed in China. In addition, the motorcycle has to registered in China. I don’t know when or how these documents will come into play, but China is the only country that requires this type of paperwork to be created.

So, the goal for today is to visit the location where you get the license, turn over our passport and vehicle registration to the fixers, along with a passport photo, and let them do their work. This should be easy, right?

The blown checkpoint

Just before the exit where the DMV is, we passed a checkpoint. Marc was leading, and I was behind him. We hit the checkpoint, and were waved through. It seems that at some point in time, after we went through, the police indicated to our group that we were supposed to stop at the checkpoint. And so, when the van pulled up to the checkpoint, after all of the bikes had passed, the Van was held accountable for the mistake.

In the meantime, we had made our way to the gate of DMV, and parked the bikes outside the fence. We waited for a few minutes, perhaps 10-15, and then we decided to get some snacks, as this looked like it could be a long wait. As soon as we finished buying “snacks” (More on this later), Marc received a call from the Van, and we were told that we needed to go back to the checkpoint.

We complied, and arrived at the checkpoint

The Double-Checkpoint

Having returned to the scene of the crime, we sat on our bikes, while Martin, our Chinese Guide, and Mike, our Tour Guide talked to the authorities. Within 2 minutes of our return, we were told that we could go. And so, go we did.

Passport and License photos

We were told that in order to get a license, we’d need to come prepared with a valid passport photo, to present to the DMV team. So, yesterday evening, Phil and I found a shop that would take passport photos, and we each got 6 photos created. So, now we’re ready for DMV.


We arrived at DMV, pulled in, and parked the bikes. Shortly thereafter, the fixers showed up, and started examining our bikes, to make sure that the Vehicle ID number, and the Engine Numbers exactly matched the numbers that we had presented, and which were on our paperwork.

All numbers matched, and the processing continued. In this case, some processing happened inside the building, but at some point, the Fixer, and a policeman also inspected our bikes, looking at the VIN, and Engine numbers.

Finally, we’re done, and we get the license…

Now, with all of the paperwork completed, we expected to receive our license and registration, but instead, we were told to go back to the hotel, and the paperwork would arrive later. Hmmm, imagine going to a DMV in the US, and being told that they’ll deliver your license to your hotel. It sounds unlikely, right?

No photo necessary

You may recall that we were told that we’d need a passport photo, to give to DMV. But, in the end, they said that they’d “Use the digital photo”. Now, we were confused by this, as we had never posed for digital photo, and we did not think that DMV had access to the photos we submitted for our visas. So, the question was, what photo were they going to use?

The day is over

This process had taken an entire day. And, to be sure, it’s not really that difference from the process I went through when I arrived in South Carolina, and was given requirement after requirement, none of which made sense to me. So, while the process is not efficient, our own system of motor vehicles is not much better, in some ways.


You may recall

Earlier in this post, I mentioned that we had purchased snacks. Well, I’m really trying to eat healthy foods, and so while in the “store”, I looked hard for meats and cheeses, which might provide protein, but not too many carbs.

As I wandered through this store, searching for protein, I found myself thinking about the first time that I visited a small store in South Carolina, where I couldn’t get what I wanted, but was able to find Pork Rinds, Bad Pizza, Chicken Wings, and numerous other “foods” which were not what I was really looking for. And so, in some ways, as a Northerner, in SC, the experience was similar, but that’s where it ends.

This little store did have some protein, so I found what looked like chicken pieces, some Red Bull, and grilled sausage meat on a stick. So, I figured, this is about as good as it gets, and I went on my way.

What the hell are these things?

As it turns out, the meat was not horrible, but it was very oily, and spicy. I’m still not sure what kind of sausage it was, but at least it was edible. As it turns out, the Chicken meat might have been chicken meat, but if it was, it was chicken feet. And, I’m afraid that this is simply a bridge too far. So, I eventually threw away the chicken feet, after carrying them for 2 days on the bike.

As they say in the commercial, this is why buying sushi from a convenience store is a bad idea…

The day is done

We blew a whole day, but at least it’s done

Finally, we arrived back at the hotel at about6:00 PM, after having spent the entire day getting our paperwork completed.

Too tired to move

We’d spent the better part of 5 days, riding through difficult and cold conditions. We waited at checkpoint and border crossings more times that I can count. We dealt with long waits and massive bureaucracy to get gas, and now, we’ll need to get up early, and get to the next city.

So, on this evening, I decided not to attend the group dinner, but instead, to go to sleep, and try to catch up on rest, so that I’m well rested as I ride the bike. With a series of long days ahead, this will prove to be very important.

We saw nothing

Kashgar is a city, which I imagined to be magical; To be the start of the Silk Road in Asia, and an important and historic city, from at least 1000 years ago. I had really wanted to see the city.

As it turns out, we saw none of the city, and spent all of our time simply doing paperwork, and complying with checkpoints, and the requirements to get gas.

What does tomorrow bring?

Tomorrow, we’ll need to ride at least 300 miles, through checkpoints, as the temperatures begin to warm. We’ll likely wait at gas stations, or be turned away completely. We’ll see the mountains on our left, and the Taklamakan dessert on our right.

it’s hard to imagine how long this will take us, but we’re expecting a very long day.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.