Day 211 (Kyrgyzstan/China): Irkeshtam - nowhereland at km marker 100 on G309 (China, at last!)
daily distance: 122km
total distance: 11,529km
riding time: 8h
It was cold, very cold in the morning. The night had brought more snow on the ground and because of the lay of the land, there was ice on the ground as well. I packed up my stuff at 8am and amidst the ice, snow and cold I set out for China.
The customs questions and medical exam were a no-brainer. 1 minute each, the first asking me how I got over the pass the previous day. I told him - he thought I was nuts. The second simply asked me whether I was physically fit. I said yes and he said OK. The immigration part was also easy and then I was let go. The road was icy and I had to be careful.
The trucks weren’t moving at all, so I was the first one to reach the first Chinese control post for the day. Here is what it looks like before getting there. Trucks were all over the place, some having skidded to a halt more than anything else.
I slipped up the hill more than anything else - the ice didn’t allow for any riding. Then I reached the border post - I was in China!!! The first one is only a control post - people were extremely professional, they radiod me in and after a few minutes I was able to move on. No problems for having gotten the visa in Tashkent. A friendly border guard and I chatted while the adminstrative bureaucracy was milling away … all the while standing in a grandiose landscape.
There was a long line of trucks waiting to move into Kyrgyzstan and I am sure they were there for a while longer. The actual border post is 8km further along - the road was no longer icy thank goodness, it being in the sun now. The truck drivers were heading back to their vehicles.
Again, very helpful staff at the border post - I had to wait for a while as things were moving at Beijing time, which is 2 hours up and it was then noon time. Don’t ask why this is … but I moved out as soon as I could and still had to wait.
Then I was really in China!!!
The border town is ugly, so I moved out. Maybe I should have picked up a pot there. Then I got to this one … it is probably a bit more. But hey …
The rest of the day was a lot of up and down, the snow giving way to greener valleys although I remained at the same altitude for most of the day. There wasn’t much water for most of the day, but thankfully that wasn’t an issue.
I am glad to be back on the bike in the end despite the problems I am having with the bike. It was in the end a longish day, with lots of altitude (1415m) and lots of km (122km). But it felt good and I felt good despite the long break. I picked a great spot for camping and had to remind myself that I was now in China … which kept putting on a big smirk on my face. The landscape is still grandiose, there are still Kyrgyz felt hats. But the roads are so different. Sealed, in good condition, with lots of signs. The people here honk all the time - slighly annoying, but they do it every time they pass someone it seems.
Signs are in Mandarin and Arabic and there is a feeling of strangeness as I can now no longer read anything unless it is written in English.