Counter: 2397 kms
Counter: 2397 kms
(Note written on Tuesday 18th June. Thanks to the great Chinese firewall, there are no blogspot, no facebook, nearly no news... But thanks to Tash, who knows a secret to bypass it, here it is!)
After empty Mongolia, it was a great pleasure to find villages every day. No need to take water for 3-4 days. No need to cook: Chinese food is excellent and varied. Finally, vegetables and fruits!
The ride from Bulgan to Ürümqi was boring. After Mongolia and its crazy landscapes, the road here presents absolutely no interest. Rien! Nichts! ¡Nada! Once out of Altai mountains, the road goes for about 600 kms around the Gurbantünggüt desert: a dry, flat and rather desolate place.
I turned the brain to basic mode, listened extensively audio books and made big days. Helped by a light tailwind, I did a ride of 186 kms on Saturday, my longest ride ever. I'll deserve rest in Ürümqi, especially my bottom!
Luckily there were militaries and policemen to entertain me! We played hide and seek together, like children.
|The last Mongolian beauty before the border.|
What an incredible concentration of wonders in this country...
(Chinese government is a bit stressed because they have growing ethnic problems, here in Xinjiang. They fear journalists, and control the region through army and police. Once again, a Chinese problem between 'minorities' - Uighurs in particular - and Hans. Maybe you do remember the 2009 ethnic violence in Ürümqi, where nearly 200 people died. If you follow the news, there is not a month without clashes between Uighurs and Hans, somewhere in Xinjiang.)
Going through the border was not as bad as I heard. The chinese customs searched my panniers twice, but not thoroughly. They were actually nice and friendly. They didn't even check the photos on my camera! Just the books and my writings awoke their interest. They took the books, went to an extra room, and came ten minutes after, saying that everything was ok. For the writings, they declared that it was ok, because 'nobody can read french here'.
I had just one remark: no tent! Foreigners has to find hotel and register every night.
On the first four nights here, I spent three in my tent, but got caught the last one. A man saw me, and he probably called the police. I had to repack everything and ride about 20 kms behind a military jeep to the nearest 'hotel' room. Once again, they were very friendly, and wanted to stay with me for a beer, what I politely refused!
Pass control at least once a day. Can I see your telephone?' 'Give me your camera!' 'Where are you going to sleep tonight?' I was surprised how good in English and how smart they are. And noooo, I'm not journalist, just a normal tourist!
On the last part, I was taking photos of an incredibly huge power plant on construction, when a car stopped at my side. Oh! Here you are my friends! Pass control... 'No photo!', told a military. This &!%**+@7 started to play with my camera, deleting some photos and... he accidentally deleted all the photos of the card. Nothing tragic as I saved all Mongolia on an extra card, but I lost my first four days in China. He felt sincerely sorry. And I was sincerely p*ss*d off.
Luckily - and once again - the food here is so good, that I took comfort in it and in a huge Wusu beer, a few hours later ;)