Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Posts from — October 2008

Day 222 (China): serious nowhereland - Qiemo (where is Qiemo?)

daily distance: 154km
total distance: 12,835km
riding time: 8h

The night was cold, but the morning was beautiful. I tried to get moving early, but the long days are getting to me.

There wasn’t much going on today …

The road was still good and the weather was kind …

As was the case yesterday, the donkeys were out in full force.

There were houses every now and again and one village early on (rather decrepit), but other than that it was like this … long hours in the saddle and nothing much to look at.

I then got to Qiemo where I saw this …

And then I was looking for the town of Qiemo. I couldn’t seem to find it, so I kept moving along the road I was going to have to take. The mile markers for Qiemo went past and then, in the end, the town appeared. I was tired and didn’t feel like looking for a place for long. I found one, took it and then had dinner and fell asleep. Tomorrow is my day off and then further on to the Yellow Sea (or something like this).

October 31, 2008   No Comments

Day 221 (China): past Mingfen - serious nowhereland (lots of people at the cemetery)

daily distance: 152km
total distance: 12,681km
riding time: 8h

I had an early start after a night not far from the cemetery. Early on there were people going back and forth from the cemetery and what turned out to be a road to a little village further on and out of sight. I had been wondering whether anyone would come to the little shed that I was lying outside of every now and again, but no one did. Good thing … and unless someone really wanted to look for me they wouldn’t have been able to see me anyway.

Here are some impressions of the cemetery.

It was nothing short of a glorious morning ride … the wind in my back and the sun out. Best of all, the atrocious road from before Mingfen had not come back, but remained a pristine black line in the desert. It was great.

It was also not as monotonous as before Mingfen. A surprising number of trees and sand dunes made for some good scenery.

And the road was no longer busy at all. If I had 30 cars passing me or coming at me all day that would be a good guess I suppose. The wind changed again in the afternoon, but not as ferocious as on other days.

The markers lent themselves to some other thoughts … I will be here this year:

And I am really enjoying myself right this moment …

For dinner I had pasta and some melon to wash it down - and then watched the stars a bit before turning in, tucked behind the dunes and out of sight of everyone.

October 30, 2008   No Comments

Day 220 (China): just before Yupian - past Mingfen (back in Central Asia?)

daily distance: 137km
total distance: 12,529km
riding time: 7-8h

Yupian didn’t hold much in store for me … except for this statue (a version of which I had seen before) …

and this formation of policemen, which marched through the whole of the city. And I wasn’t quite sure of whether to take that shot or not. A hord of angry policemen on the chase …

Once out of the city, I thought I was on the wrong road. It was badly surfaced and so different from what I have grown used to over the last few days. The markers were there alright, but it was narrow and the asphalt broken all over the place. This was to last all day long, until I got to Minfeng. It was bad … and I sort of felt like I was back in portions of Central Asia. And I was tired. My tires seemed to be glued to the road, my legs weren’t willing to move any and I didn’t really know what to make of it all. I kept taking breaks needlessly … well, I guess they were necessary. But nothing seemed to make sense. The tailwind that I had in the morning sort of helped, but when the road is too bumpy, high speeds just aren’t possible.

It was then desert, desert, desert … all day long. Ugly desert too. Vast expanses of nothingness. This was about as good as it got.


Mingfen seemed to be OK, but there was a problem with finding a place. Most turned me away, ostensibly because I am a foreigner. The one place that would have had me tried to rip me off and so I left Mingfen again. I bought what I needed for dinner and the next day, headed out to find a suitable spot. Still no shower and no laundry done and 300km away from Qiemo. Ouch …

One of the readers asked me how I was doing these days and this question prompted me to think about this today. Actually, I am doing fine. There are certain times when it is difficult to be by myself … but for the most part I am really happy. Things are good. The bike seems to be OKish right now and I am doing well. I will have to take a break sooner than later as the distances that I am pulling at the moment are just too great.

Just FYI and if you are really paying attention to the markers and the distances, there has been a jump in the markings, dropping by about 45km between entering and leaving Mingfen. And believe me, that place isn’t that large.

I spent the night under the roof of a shed, about 10km past Mingfen - not far from a cemetery.

October 29, 2008   No Comments

Day 219 (China): 10km after Lop - just before Yupian (tailwind, sun out, happy days …)

daily distance: 140km
total distance: 12,392km
riding time: 7h

I stepped out of my sleeping quarters and … it hit me. Or rather didn’t. There was a tailwind. And it was sunny. I was on the bike as quickly as I could and started on what should be a long day.

But it was just plain good riding. After a while I reached the town of Qira where the internet woes seemed to continue. But in the end they didn’t. It seems that there was someone who did what was necessary … puts in my details (including passport number, where did I have to do that before?) and that is it.

The rest of the day was desert riding, interspersed by inhabited places here and there.

Those tend to be interesting and much more attractive to me than the big cities. But look for yourself.

Finding a place before Yutian proved to be a bit tricky again. Trying to explain what a tent is when you don’t know the language isn’t easy. And even with a drawing or the picture talk booklet people don’t seem to be getting what you want. Instead, they invite you into their place (once again …).


As someone asked about the temperatures - it is mostly below freezing during the night and goes up to around 20C during the day. Most of the time I start riding wearing a solid layer of clothing which I am slowly shedding as the day progresses.

October 28, 2008   No Comments

Day 218 (China): km marker 2552 on G315 - 10km after Lop (not liking Hotan)

daily distance: 102km
total distance: 12,252km
riding time: 5-6h

In the room with my bike and a motorcyle I slept like a baby, had breakfast with Mehmet and his wife and some visitors and set out.

It was a nice morning, and it was supposed to be a short day. It wasn’t after all … I meant to stay in Hotan.

But that didn’t work out. The area was much busier than I had anticipated, but I was in Hotan before noon and looked for a hotel. Well … the Happy Hotel is not so happy. Described as a great place in the guidebook, it really isn’t. The owners were awful and so I decided to leave the place altogether after finding out that none of the internet cafes would let me on the net. Hotan is a busy and hectic place, so I left again. It has interesting statements in the form of statues.

I arrived in Lop soon thereafter and found an internet cafe without a problem, the place was not nearly as hectic and busy as Hotan.

As darkness approached I left Lop and found a place about 10km away from the town - a place where local workers were staying and was shown a room … and that was really it for the day.

October 27, 2008   1 Comment