Hard long days

Sitting in a depressing Taklamakan desert town (Mangmai) in an internet cafe that is like a bomb shelter with 200 people in it. We are the first foreigners to come here. Had a really hard (but good) day with 300 km on gravel, sand and rocks and then the last 80 on some wonderful tar-seal. Did a mountain pass of over 4000m with wonderful switch-backs. The BMW was a bit reluctant at the top as we are also on lower octane fuel than we would like.Tomorrow another 450 in the desert.

Had seven large bottles of beer in a concrete park, surrounded by derelict buildings then all crammed into a tiny taxi and came to the internet helped by a local lady.

We have had a few BIG days due to the Chinese military delaying our entry into China by 5 days. The Touragat Pass was quite something with 4 punctures, the last one Dave and I fixed with tape and glue as there were no more tubes, it was snowing and about 2 degrees, the others were doing a last frantic race to the border crossing to get there before it closed. We all got there, and the tyre sighed it’s last, but it had made it on parcel tape (an old Invercargill trick).

This outer region of China is really booming, with roading and infrastructure but the indigineous people feel disenfranchised it seems. Wonderful wealth lies just beneath the harsh, hot, sandy surface and some of the roads we have ridden are only maintained to keep access to the oil and mining fields and would cover with sand-dunes in weeks without the sweeping that is done for miles by hand.

The others have all abandoned me and gone off to find a food place, probably will cost them a $1 for a big feed, and it has cost me 24 cents for my hour on the net. Prices are great except where they have had lots of tourists and have learned to rip them off. Fuel is 40 cents a litre but there are strange rules so and we get shouted at often. One rule is that you must push your bike within 50 meters of the pump, another was we first must put the fuel into a bucket and then tip it into the bike.

Must away, I dream of vegemite toast and green trees.

Love Jo

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