A lot has happened in the past 2 (or is it 3 weeks?). We all finally met up near the Chinese border; most of the group staying in a somewhat "cosy" caravan just short of the border. A cold night trying to avoid some over friendly truckers and we were ready to enter China. Not as easy as you might think. We were waved through the first Chinese checkpoint only to be stopped by a very angry man at the next. He insisted we shouldn't be there and that we had to go back to the previous checkpoint. I managed to calm him down and we settled in to wait for our official guide. Things were eventually smoothed out when he arrived and we continued on our way to Kashgar.......slowly!
After an eternity we arrived in the fabled silk road oasis. Great to be back: proper Chinese food and my favourite Chinese beer, Yanjing! Oh yeah!
3 days in the city to fix various bikes (mine has been sweet so far), before hitting the north desert road via Aksu and Korla to Turpan where a mini Dakar was in full swing. The ride to Turpan included a dust storm.......which was nice! Unfortunately, two of our group felt they were more important than the rest of us and decided to go off project and camp in the wilderness without telling anyone. This was to have serious repercussions for all of us, but that was to come.
After Turpan we swung north skirting Urumqi and heading into yet another desert on the way to the Mongolian border.
Spent the last night in China in the charming little town of Qing He. I managed to find a nice little bar and had the oppurtunity to practice my pitiful Chinese.
Next day we rode the short distance to the border, which took the entire day to negotiate, and then we were in Mongolia!
Soundtrack: Stagger Lee ─ Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds