Bob Seger / Nightbush “Keep an eye out for the police, nothing ever happens in Nightbush”
Note for the record:
Once again, I’m trying to get these reports out, but I’m still unable to publish any videos to YouTube. So, here it is, Sept 30th, and I’m publishing a Blog post from 8 days ago, and it’s still incomplete. Arghhh, I’m hoping to publish a couple more tonight, before I go to bed. But, with the slow Internet, the restrictions on Google and YouTube, you never know, you simply never know…
|Travel From||–||Turpan, China|
|Ending Location||–||Hami, China|
|Miles Driven Today||–||281 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||10077 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|
I’ve now ridden more than 10,000 miles, and spent time in 18 countries. I’ve enjoyed the journey, but at times, I’ve felt tattered and torn, as we’re always up early, on the bikes regardless of the weather, and often arriving late at the hotel. Such is the life of an Adventure Rider, right?
We left the hotel at 8:30, and the temperature was about 65 degrees at that time. The light was supporting our departure, but the city was bustling, and as usual, we needed to ride as a team, in order to keep the assassins at bay.
Reports from the road
Today, I had slept well, but simply could not muster the energy or enthusiasm for reports from the road. And so, there are Not really any reports from the road for today, but tomorrow, they’ll be back.
1000 Buddha Caves
I did not even bother to go to the Buddha caves, as I needed to discuss some things with the Edelweiss team leaders.
Border Check Points
Over the course of today, we went through about 7 border check points or passport checks. Most of these we were able to blow right through, as a result of having a police escort. Nevertheless, we still spent hours getting our passports checked, and trying to get gas.
VIDEO OF APPROACH OF BORDER CHECK POINT
A police escort (Part I)
Last night, when Feroz and I were separated from the group, we made our own way to the hotel As it turned out, we ended up at the wrong hotel, twice… The rest of the group was also dealing with a “lack of local knowledge” of the area, and the exact location of the our true hotel So, somehow, at their final checkpoint, they ended up with a Police escort, who drove in front of the lead rider, and escorted them to the door of the hotel.
This morning, it seems that that same policeman showed up this morning, and was once again, going to escort us to our first historical site, the Budda caves.
So, at some point, this policeman helped us get through one of the passport control points with lightening speed. So, although we did not see a lot of help from having him assist finding and getting access to any of the historical sites, all of the sudden, there was a compelling reason to have his help, and we were grateful.
A police escort (Part II)
At about 11:15 or so, we came to the 2nd checkpoint. Once again, we expected the policeman to help us through, cutting down the processing time, but instead, he “turned us over” to the next police station, and they began to get organized for what would prove to be an extraordinary 4 hours or so.
At this point, we were told that the police officer would be replaced by another officer, and that we’d have to wait a while for this new officer to show up. So, we waited in the hot sun, but suddenly, things began to change. First, we were told that we could sit in the shade, in front of the front door of the station, under the awning, on the steps. And then, we were told that we could sit inside, where it was cooler. After about 10 minutes inside, the chief cut into a watermelon, and gave us all a piece of a delicious watermelon. Eventually, the new policeman / escort arrived, and we jumped back on the bikes, and drove off, following the white car, with the flashing lights, and several cops inside.
The escort drove for a bit, perhaps 15 miles, and then he turned us over to another escort, who was staged, and sitting on the side of the road, waiting or us. And so, this is how the rest of the day would go.
A police escort (Part III)
Let’s say that it’s about noon now, and we were expecting to get to lunch in just a few minutes. This new police team had other designs, and they set off like a bullet. And so, for at least 45 minutes, we followed this policeman, with the lights on, siren blazing, riding through small town after small town. Anyone that dared to get in our way, or even think about getting in our way, was admonished by the police offer, as he, and 2 counterparts drove by the local townspeople, getting them out of the way of the “rock stars on the bikes”.
Eventually, we got out of the small towns, and back on the highway. Once again, we were turned over to another team, and then another. Somewhere along the way, we convinced one of the teams that we needed gas, and lunch, so that’s how we ended up at the gas station, described above. As for lunch, the officers chose a spot for us, that specialized in noodles, the local dish. We didn’t need to waste any of our brain power selecting a restaurant, one had been chosen for us. Boy, that’s efficient.
VIDEO OF POLICE ESCORT
After 6 days in China, the police seem to really want to help keep us safe, and get us to Hami, and then to Duhong, where we’ll be out of the province.
With the police at our side, we figured that we’d have no problem at all getting gas. But, I know it’s hard to believe, but the gas station turned away the police request to give us gas. Instead, they told us that there was another gas station, about a mile up the road, and that we should try that station.
We rode there, but at the 2nd station we were told that we could not bring the bikes into the station, instead, they would fill up a can, that looked like a sprinkling can, made from galvanized, with an open top, and virtually no thought of safety, and use this can to fill the bikes, one at a time. In each case, they would have to carry the can back to the pump, refill it, carry it to the steel gate, and pour it into one of the bikes, and them repeat the process.
VIDEO OF GAS CAN AT THE GATE
Disagreement with the local tribe of Uighur people
I’ve briefly touched on the fact that there is a dispute between the Chinese government, and the Uighur people, who live near the Kyrgyzstan border of China. It is out understanding that the issues with access to Gasoline, and the myriad of passport checks will end, once we’re well and good out of this province.
today’s ride started at 70 degrees, then it dipped to 61 in the pass. After leaving the pass, the temperature rose steadily throughout the day, hitting a high of 93 F
I’m getting tired again
After driving on the pothole infested roads of Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, it was a joy to ride along on these brand new highways, built in China. However, these highways are very straight, and monotonous, so as we ride, instead of enjoying curves, and switchbacks, we face mile upon mile of straight road, with the heat building to higher and higher temperatures.
And so it was, with about 100 Miles to go before we arrive at the hotel, I began to feel fatigue. Martin Helni, my Swiss friend is a good rider, and is also very observant. He noticed that I made a small deviation from my line, and he pulled along side of me to ask if I was alright, or if we needed to stop. I did the right thing, and admitted that I was tired, and signaled to Mike that we need to pull over.
A brief stop to poor water on my head, and down the back of my jacket did the trick, and we were back on the road pretty quickly. As it turned out, several other riders were complaining of this same problem, and thanked me for getting Mike to pull over.
We finally got to the hotel at about 7PM. I was hungry, and needed to get my luggage up to the room ASAP. You see, I’m the idiot that packed too much stuff into my panniers, and now I’m suffering as a result. Each day, I have to bring 2 full panniers, a tank bag, a dry bag, a small backpack, a helmet, and an SD card, from the onboard camera, all into my room. It can’t be done in a single trip, so I have to resort to a luggage cart in order to get everything to my room.
How to deal with the heat?
Well, over the past week, as the daily temperatures have been rising, one by one, the guys have been getting haircuts. The idea is that with less hair, the breeze will flow through the helmet better, and when you take off the helmet, the air will feel great.
I was one of the last to take this task on. I was not procrastinating, but as it turned out, each time we’d get to a city, and have a free minute to get a haircut, I needed to take care of some other task. Either I had to do a little blogging, or I had to obtain passport photos, or I needed to see about getting a more capable SIM card for my phone. In any case, I have not had the time.
So, tonight, I borrowed a clipper from Marc, and went to town. Giving yourself a haircut should not be that hard, but this was my first, so I managed to do a near-perfect job, leaving only one small patch of hair that is the wrong length. Not bad for an amateur.