We made it to Turpan! The region is known for its grapes and wine, and the street our hotel is on is covered in grape vines.
It has been very hot the last few days, although they keep telling us that Turkmenistan will be much hotter. Turpan is in a giant hole in the earth, going down to about 200m below sea level. For us it means that the next few days we will be riding uphill! Also, I saw two camels on the side of the road.
Yesterday we arrived in Dunhuang. We had a couple of great days of riding, including yesterday when we completed our 140km distance in about four hours, thanks to a strong tailwind.
One of the nights we had a brutal wind storm at the aptly named Windmill Camp. Three people’s tents collapsed in the high winds. The next night, however, we camped next to a river. We all went swimming, bathed in the river, and went to sleep early once the mosquito swarms arrived.
Last night we relaxed here in Dunhuang, and visited the night market.
After our cold and rainy day, we had a night in a hotel to warm up and dry our tents (and wash the mud of of emeverything/em). The next day, we biked into the desert for another night of camping. But this time, we had great weather!
As we were finishing dinner, two cyclists rolled in who were riding from Dieppe, France to Beijing. We shared some of our food with them and they spent the night at our camp.
A few days ago, we were all excited for our next night of camping, where we would set up our tents next to a two thousand year old section of the Great Wall of China.
The weather didn’t cooperate though. We were riding into a very strong headwind. It then started raining heavily. To make a long story short, by the end of the day about half of the riders (myself included) were picked up by the van and driven the rest of the way to camp. We then all frantically dug into our secondary bags to find our warmest clothes.
Daniel, the last rider to make it to camp under his own power, summed it up best. When he arrived, after warming up with a couple of bowls of soup and cups of coffee, he said “This is a real shit show.”
Yesterday we were informed that one of the tunnels we were supposed to ride through had collapsed. That meant we would have an entirely new route for the next two days. And as usual, a new route will be longer and have more hills!
It was a bit of a long day, but it was a great ride. We finally had clear blue skies, and no smog or haze! It was really nice to finally be riding on a quiet mountain road.
Our route tomorrow is pretty much the same – 140km with lots of hills. It will also be our first night camping!
We are now about halfway through this leg – from Xi’an to Lanzhou. I had my first bout of stomach problems over the last few days, but am back to normal now. Since I didn’t really feel like blogging, here are a few updates from the last little while.
We biked across a big bridge. When I stopped on the bridge to take photos I could feel it moving around quite a bit.
We saw a couple of tall buildings. I’m not sure what the first one was, but the second one is a temple.
We went through a 1.5km long tunnel. It was pretty dark inside, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.
We saw some goats and this guy selling sticky rice wrapped in leaves from the back of his bicycle.
We went to a temple known as the Great Buddha Cave. It has a few small caves with Buddhist sculptures much like the ones we saw before.
One of the caves is at the top of a chain that we climbed up (and then down).
And there is a huge cave, several stories high, with huge sculptures inside. I would guess that they were about 100 feet tall!