So, you thought you were done? Not a chance…
|Travel From||–||Kashgar, China|
|Intermediate Location||–||Border checkpoint|
|Ending Location||–||Kashgar, China|
|Miles Driven Today||–||39 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||8884 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China|
Note for the record:
This report is a historical record of what happened on the 17th of September, but I’m completing this post on the evening of the 22nd, 5 days after the events happened. There are a few reasons for this, and I hope that this note will explain much about the next 5 days.
There is a territorial and sovereignty dispute occurring between the Chinese Government, and a local group of indigenous peoples. This dispute is taking place in the province where we are now located, and which is adjacent to Kyrgyzstan. As a result, this region has extremely high security. The heightened security seems to bring with it at least 3 things.
First, there are border and passport control checkpoints everywhere. The locals, and foreigners like us, are subjected to these checks frequently. I’m not going to get into the politics of all of this, but I want you to be aware that we are stopped very frequently.
The internet in hotels is often impossible to get working, and when you do get it working, most of the services that are critical to my ability to publish videos on a given day, are blocked. For instance, I have no way to publish my videos to YouTube, and without that, I’ll be able to write a blog post, but not to include any videos.
This being a motorcycle tour, we require gas every 250 miles, so that the bikes with the smaller tanks can continue unabated. We do not completely understand the process, but it seems that only some gas stations are allowed to sell us gas, and the rules about how we must fill up the bikes seem to vary from station to station. In any case, it takes us forever to fill the bikes. Assume that we spend at least 20-30 minutes to fill up the bikes.
The combination of gas stops, and passport control stops, costs us at least 4-5 hours every day. Some days more, some days less. But, on a given day, by the time that we arrive at the hotel, it is often quite late, and so, I often have very little time to write a blog post, never mind publishing it, or editing, rendering and publishing the videos. Due to the nature and danger level of riding a motorcycle, you must be alert, and so all of us must get a minimum amount of sleep each night, and sometimes that can be tough. So, we try very hard to get to bed early enough to get enough sleep.
And finally, in many, or even most of these hotels, they require that you have a Chinese SIM card in your phone, in order to receive a TXT message, which you’ll need, in order to get your Internet access working. Forget about entering your room number and last name, which is common in the US, here in China, you’ll need to use your phone, to get a TXT, and then enter the number, into a browser screen. But, these systems may have some bugs, which cause them to shutdown the browser session, once you ask your phone to send you a TXT message. And so, last night, I spent 30 minutes, standing at the front desk, trying to get anything to work. In the end, they acknowledged that they might have a problem, but they shrugged, and said that they are sorry.
Nevertheless, I was unable to do any work at all, even though I spent the better part of 2 hours, just trying to get Internet access.
And so, it can be very hard to publish these posts. So, please bear with me. I’m doing my best to stay caught up, even though the posts are not yet published. We’re all hopeful that once we leave this province, tomorrow, we’ll start to have better access, less checkpoints, and more gas. But, who knows…
The quarantine process
Staging the bikes
At the end of the day yesterday, along with our bikes, we were finally able to say that we had completed the first big step in the process.
We had received a stamp in our passport, and the bikes were neatly parked, ready to be inspected during the overnight. Now, its day two of the process, and we would need to pick up the bikes, and drive to Kashgar.
The previous night we had taken a bus from this staging point to the hotel in Kashgar. This morning, we left the hotel at 8:30, and traveled by bus to the quarantine area, where we were told that we’d be done by noon.
Shit, where are the keys?
The last thing we did before leaving the quarantine area last night, was to give all of the keys to the guides, for safe keeping. Well, that’s all well and good, but as it turns out, the guide forgot the keys in the hotel room.
Of the 12 riders, 9 of them had a spare key with them, or stashed in the van. So, 9 of the bikes were able to move to the step in the process, which involved sitting on the bike, in front of a booth, while you were examined, and your paperwork was once again checked. This time, the Engine number and the chassis number (VIN) were validated, and the bikes were deemed worthy to come into China.
So, now what do we do?
Well, we could have just sat and waited for our Chinese guide Martin to bring the keys form the hotel, but we’re ingenious, of nothing else. We found a luggage cart, and lifted the front of the bike onto the luggage cart, so that the front wheel of the bike, rested on the cart. We then put the bikes in neutral, and with several folks working together, we held the bike upright, while rolling it slowly backwards, then forward into position at the customs check booth.
All the bikes are inspected, now what
Well, you’ll recall that we were able to get all of the bikes inspected, using our luggage cart idea, but without the keys, there was no way to drive them back to Kashgar. We did not want to split the group, and so we would all stay together, and complete each step as a team.
We knew that the Customs team would take lunch at noon, but they waited for us until 1:00 PM, to see if we could produce the keys, and drive the bikes out of the gate. And so, at about 12:55, Martin showed up with the keys. We quickly took the keys, started the bikes, and moved them outside of the gate, where we’d get lunch, and wait to see if we needed to disinfect the bikes.
We ate lunch, and then waited. And waited, and waited. We were hopeful that there would be no need to disinfect the bikes, and to go through another inspection, and in the end, we got the call at about 4:30 that we did not need to disinfect them. So, we could now leave, and head to Kashgar.
Camels I say; That’s right, camels…
CAMEL CHASE VIDEO
In this video, you can see that I came around a corner of the road, and discovered two, wild camels standing in the road. As they saw me, they became agitated, and obviously concerned, so they started to run. Watching a camel run, on pavement is comical. So, the video shows me following these two camels, for several hundred yards. I can’t wait to publish it for you.
What will tomorrow bring?
Well, we spent the first day getting the bikes to the quarantine location. We spent the second day getting the bikes out of quarantine, back to the hotel. Tomorrow, the third day, we will focus on obtaining a Chinese drivers license, and a Chinese registration for each of the bikes.
It will get better. The people in the main part of China are wonderful and seem to really like Americans. We were treated with great kindness and open-hearted friendliness when we were there.
The people have been very nice. In fact, we’re rock stars here in China. We’ll pull over in a rest stop, and if a tour bus comes into this same stop, the people get out and take pictures and videos with us, as if we’re all Bono from U2. I’ve been part of many of the paparazzi sessions, but I’m going to film the next one. I’m sure that you’ll all get a kick out of it. And as to the people, even the police are usually very nice to us. They often want to shake hands, and be very human. It is only the policies that are causing us any trouble at all, and I’m not going to talk about the policies. At this point in time, I’m focused on keeping up to date, and making it all the way to Bangkok.
Hi Dad, love reading the blog and can’t wait to see you in a few weeks
I’m glad you’re enjoying it. It seems to me that with all of the mud, gravel, technical riding, checkpoints, gas droubt, I really am having one hell of an adventure. Stay tuned for more.
Cliff, what is the quality of the gasoline like there?
The gas in China seems to be fine, however, back in Kazakhstan, we were told by Alex, our Russian guide that we should not use the 95 octane fuel, due to some additives in the gas. So, we filled up on 92 octane. I rode with this tank of 92 octane, and my gas mileage dropped from 40 mpg to about 33 mpg. As soon as I refilled with 95 octane, the bike immediately started posting 40 mpg again. So, the gas in Kazakhstan is suspect in a number of ways. When I get home, I’ll check into what Alex said, and see if I can make sense out of it.