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

Day 217 (China): km marker 2780 on G315 - km marker 2552 on G315 (sandblasting)

daily distance: 130km
total distance: 12,150km
riding time: 6-7h

The night was bad … really bad. The wind had changed and it now blew directly through the little water tunnel I was in. It was a) cold and b) sandy. I woke up with my eyes almost glued together and couldn’t open them for a second. Then I realized what was going on. In the light of my headlamp I could see the sand driving at me. Giving the place up with nowhere to go was not an option so I created a barrier with my bags and hunkered down behind it. The sleeping bag kept me warm, that wasn’t an issue, but the sand kept coming until the morning hours. And again, I had trouble opening my eyes in the morning. Not a nice feeling. Now I know what sandblasting feels I guess. And sand was everywhere.

I shook myself out and got back on the road. I must have looked pretty awful as the people in the first town came to me and gave me some water to wash up. Then, lots of uneventful cycling until I got the first town - where I wanted to grab a bite in a restaurant. The cooks were amazing and wouldn’t let me pay for anything. The food was delicious to boot. Thanks guys …

It was another long day …. and it is sort of decision time. I am thinking whether to try to get to a place where I can renew my visa which means cycling like crazyor whether to just realize that I will not be able to get there under my own steam and take it easy. We shall see. Any input is appreciated.

In the afternoon I came by pommegranate heaven and at one point was waved over, given two pommegranates and set out again. Funny stuff that is happening and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that this is the place for those delicious fruits.

 And this is what things look like for the most part these days …

And then my first sunset in days …

At night I came to a derelict place - but was welcomed by Mehmet and his wife. The two of them were funny as you can have it - and the Langenscheidt Picture Talk booklet that I have came in really handy.

October 26, 2008   No Comments

Day 216 (China): before Zepu - km marker 2780 on G315 (not much going on …)

daily distance: 125km
total distance: 12,020km
riding time: 6-7h

I woke up often during the night - rodents being around and some aluminum paper that they seemed to like. Couldn’t do much really as I couldn’t find where it was.

I met a Chinese biker - Ching Feng and felt ashamed at the major amount of equipment that I am carrying. This guy has gone back to basics for sure.

Brief stop in Yecheng - a rather nondescript city for the most part …

Late in the afternoon, I was still in the middle of the desert, a truck driver coming towards me stops, gives me some bread and moves on. Just like that. Out of nowhere. Then, when things became dark I saw a good spot to sleep - were it not for three people milling about in the same place. No longer a good place. The search was on - the desert was flat on either side, nothing to hide behind. And it was getting dark now. Finally, a little water tunnel, where I decided to hunker down. It was out of the wind and the cars weren’t much of a factor. Except for those voices I heard for about 20 minutes not far away. But they went away after fixing their car. Little did I know what the night would turn out like in the end. And it has nothing to do with these …

October 25, 2008   No Comments

Day 215 (China): Khesir Badadi - just before Zepu (learning the ropes in a new land)

My apologies for the late posting. I have been having difficulties getting on the web. Either there are no internet cafes or I don’t see them or I am not allowed on (as was the case today in Hotan - needless to say I have moved on as I am typing this). Things are going well - no need to worry

daily distance: 114km
total distance: 11,895km
riding time: 5-6h

The day started out really well. The place I stayed at was great. I was introduced to so many Uyghur things that I was glad that of the uncertainty of last night. Uncertainty however was rampant at first. I meant to leave, but was signaled to stay for breakfast. Fair enough. Then, after some bread and grapes, I meant to leave and again was signaled to come along to some place. No idea where yet.

We then went to the “center” of town - just down the road and it was a treat. Sure, plenty of people staring at me and the like, but the food was delicious.

Cooked right there and then, Muma is great. Take a look for yourself.

Plenty of people seem to be coming here in the morning, drink their tea and eat a bite - then take off again. I would have never found out about it.

Then, more riding in the rather uninspiring desert. It was again hazy, with a bit more blue skies overhead.


I covered the first 80km rather quickly, stopped in Shache for a while and got going again - and found the old part of town. The cities here seem to be always divided between a modern Chinese part of town and a traditional Uy*ghur part of town. The same here - broad boulevards v. small narrow streets and the like. Business in both parts though.

I did some more riding, but didn’t get much done finally. 30km or so, that was it. I tried finding a place to camp, but there are always lots and lots of people. Can’t escape them. I meant to pitch when someone saw me and hailed me. I had to go over and ask whether it was OK to pitch. They asked me in instead - brought very yummy food over and we watched Chinese TV. They were Han Chinese - told me that they had moved from their province (Hanxi) over here - ostensibly with go*vernment subsidies. Those can’t be high however, given the conditions they lived in. It was very basic - mud bricks, mud ground and not much space at all. But it was another good glimpse into the life of people here for which I am grateful.

Some of you have asked what the map is for on the website. It shows where visitors to the site come from - or at least it appears that they are from, based on their IP address. As of today, I realize that I also have a reader from Greenland. But I also realized that the blip in Japan has grown considerably - and I know that one reader has been having a tough time. I can only hope that she can find the strength to get through this difficult time. And you know who you are.

October 24, 2008   No Comments

Day 214 (China): Kashgar - Khesir Badadi (never got so many offers in one day)

daily distance: 131km
total distance: 11,781km
riding time: 7h

I meant to leave early today and couldn’t really. First off, I found that my helmet had a slight problem. Take a look for yourself. Now, I don’t know how this happened, but it could be something in the aftermath of Sary Tash, it could be something else.


After some more errands I got back on the bike and headed out. First conversations that really didn’t happen in Kashgar started to take place at a fruit stand. Germany was just a far place, so was Beijing I had the feeling.

Just before, a group of elderly Chinese (some younger ones as well, I suppose) was going through their morning ritual in a park.

She wasn’t part of that crowd …

Then it was out riding for the day. It is desert riding in a different way. There are still a number of oases and I don’t yet have the feeling to be in the desert. And it is rather cold most of the day. There are maybe two hours each day during which it is slightly warm, but it was dull grey sky for most of the day. Which invoked strange feelings of gloominess.

Heading into Yengisar a 12-year old girl stretched her arm out and pushed an apple into my hand as I was cycling by. It was an uplifting experience …. so were the great number of offers to put the bike on trucks or on stretch mofas. All were declined however.

In Yengisar the lone internet cafe was on the second floor. I had asked at a print shop and when I told them that the bike was a problem, one guy simply opened up a door, told me to put it in and it would be good. I was a bit cautious after what had happened, but he just gave me the key to the lock and told me to give it back when I was done. Awesome!!!

Then I pedaled on again into the afternoon. It was now dreary desert riding … there is a forest about 3km to the North, but through the haze one can barely see it. Other than that it is just wide I guess - but you can’t be sure because of the constant haze.

Finding a place proved tricky. All the oases are completely used up and the wind was fierce all afternoon (in my face of course), so after a while I was shown a place in a building with the national flag over it. All was good until someone made a phone call and it was no longer a go. No idea what happened. All of a sudden everyone was gone.

By now it was dark and kids were pestering me. Trying to find something was difficult, but in the end - after being turned away numerous times - a guy welding said it was no problem. He turned out to be a handy person - apart from being a welder, he was also a doctor of sorts and lots of other things, such as miller and farmer. An older man came in with a problem on his left elbow, clearly in pain. With lots of unorthodoxy, he seemed to have fixed him up pretty well, although the face of the old man was clearly showing agony.

Sleep came after a long day of cycling and some eerie moments of not knowing what would happen next, but all was well in the end.

October 23, 2008   1 Comment

Day 213 (China): rest day in Kashgar (taking in a new environment)

A wander around Kashgar is really all there was to things today. And it is an interesting town. Although it must have lost much of what used to feel like. It is a city with big streets and lots of neon signs. And some old doors …

I will let the pictures speak for themselves for the most part. I tried looking for the old parts of town and just got lost there for a while. And they are certainly the most interesting of places.

Suffice it to say that I felt somewhat lost here and had my first moment of pushing the limits. This one came really fast - but I don’t get any of the signs any longer and communication is somewhat difficult. And it won’t be getting any better over the next few weeks as I am heading along the Taklamakan I guess. But things turned around quickly. I went to a little alley and saw tons of food stands there. I dug right in and when I left I was thinking that this will be a really interesting time here … I am sure that good things are in the offing.

There were lots and lots of wedding ceremonies today …

October 22, 2008   1 Comment