Guess we are, back in Qiemo.
Well, you didn’t know until now that we have been here before, but sad enough we were.
We have made another detour of about 160 km because our map has lead us to a dead end street. And that sucks, so much for now.
Today is 3.8.2012. “Is it August already? ” That’s what I ask Paul with a voice that probably shows unbelief and surprise. ” yes, the third of August”, he replies with the same voice.
We have started our trip in April, it is nearly 4 month ago that we left our home, sat on our bikes and since then rode more than 8000 km. Its a strange feeling remembering all the things that happened to us on our tour, some seem so far away it could have been on another tour. “We are in china” is another expression of sudden surprise about our location. Then we smile at each other and I guess, we both think the same: you have to be at least a little crazy to do a trip like this.
And we are glad we make that trip together, so we are not alone in our craziness.
Still, I don’t really feel being in china. This part of the country is more Uyghur than Chinese. There are some things that are typical Chinese, like eating with big “toothpics” or dragons as sculptures framing gates and street signs. But most of the culture is still very Muslim. In addition the landscape right now is a mixture between Kazachstan and desert, so actually Kazachstan but then 10*C hotter.
China, up to now, has not made it through to us yet , or the other way round. We haven’t made it to the real china yet.
The last days have been kind of strange. We were both looking forward to go through the desert on the one hand, on the other hand we hated the heat and the wind. Maybe it was not extreme enough, there were still rivers from time to time and grass growing between dunes. It gave me the feeling that we had to take all the disadvantages from the desert, but weren’t able to really experience it’s extreme nature.
Also I would never have thought that the desert is so dusty. Every day we were here was bad sight, ranging from a few kilometers to only meters. We didnt get the view on the Himalayas out of the desert, that I had hoped for so much.
Sport in this area is nothing people understand and I can imagine why. Our lungs must look like an old vacuum cleaner bag with which we have tried to clean the road from Kirgilik to here. Full of sand and dust.
When we wake up in the morning, we often find all our stuff and ourselves covered in dust. First thing we have to do Is clean out our nose, eyes, our hair and the tent. Then the cameras and other equipment. And the sand doesn’t stop at the food. It’s been a long time since I ate an egg or a bread without sand on it. Is this the reason why the bread for on-the-go is called sandwich?
Another problem we experience is our chains. In the beginning of the desert we oiled them regularly only to notice that it has an contra productive effect. The oil on the chain catches the sand and makes it a sandpaper brushing over the cogwheels. Not exactly a good lubrication.
Enough about the negative sides of the desert. We knew(at least partly) what we were expecting and so we have to manage now.
The positive sides would be for example:
-you can steal a grane of sand and no one will ever miss it
- “don’t worry about rain, it’s not very likely”. Well, we must have won the rain- lottery then, 6 out of 8 days in the desert we had rain-showers.
-”there won’t be any Mosquitos for it is far to dry”. Sandflies take their part. And by the way, there are Mosquitos also.
As you might have noticed, the desert is not my favorite place, not this one.
And so I was even more glad when we noticed the dead end of the street ahead of us which made us turn back and cycle the same desert again. The street had gotten worse the last kilometers already, sanddunes had started wandering over the asphalt, but we optimistically thought it might be a temporarily change due to stormy days before.
Well, the map said, this is the main road (international road 319) between east and west china. It must be going on.
The map and even Google were wrong. The road ended here in a unridable, sandy desert. Going on here would mean being foolish. After asking several locals ,that destroyed all our hopes on a parallel road or else, we sadly decided to hitchhike back to Qiemo. Ahm, hitch hiking is a good idea on a road that is a dead end. Probably everyone besides us knew this road. We had noticed on our way here that there was hardly any traffic, only a few cars of locals. So no truck our bikes would fit in would ever pass us here. Why would they drive to the end of a road if there wasn’t even a village to deliver to. But why was there a road anyway? To trap German cyclists in the desert? Maybe a measure of the Chinese government to make cycling tourists give up and start doing more controllable tourism.
Didn’t matter anymore, we had to cycle all the way back. Back through the boring landscape, dunes and of course, the wind had changed against us again and was blowing the sand over the streets edge directly into our faces. As you surely can imagine it is even more exhausting to cycle a boring landscape twice, especially if it looks the same from both sides.
The few positive things of these three wasted days for me are:
-I now know more than before that things like this can’t stop me, it is bitter when you notice such an error, but it makes me say to myself: Now i want it more than ever.
-Paul and I had a very elementary argument. It is too private to talk about it here, but we managed to fight like grown ups, to keep our pride and still get to the bottom of the barrel to seek out the reason. Every one of us talked about on hour non stop while the other one was listening, in the end we had a clear picture of what our fight was about, a very satisfying feeling.
-The more extreme, the situations we are in, the more help we get from the locals. At the point we where we had to turn around we got water and many friendly words from them. They understood our frustration and helped us getting over it.
-We have build an perfect foldable oven system, tested it and gave it the note: Very handy. It weights only about
300 g and fits into the pot we carry with us anyway. We have never had such an delicious and fast dinner:0)
Now, as I told already, we are In Qiemo again, the city we have been in 3 days ago for refreshing our food-supplies. We have bough a whole dug, grilled and spiced, as a reward for our useless detour. We just spotted an acceptable place to sleep, quite muddy and “itchy” I suppose, but good enough to sleep after such an exhausting day. Tomorrow we will go on on the real road that leads us deep through the desert to Ruoqiang and that according to our map and Google, does not exist. But I guess around here, asking the locals is better than trusting in our map, we’ll see.
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