09/04/19: Desert Camp 124 km
09/04/20: Derelict Barn Camp 153 km
09/04/21: Turpan 134 km
Aided by relatively gentle winds we have made good progress. Here is a video of Margo braking for a dust devil, and a picture of me cycling (which is what I do most of the day).
Caution: Dust Devil Crossing
These were relatively “normal” days of desert cycling. We’re forced to do longish distances because the places to buy supplies are so far apart, and there is almost no surface water anywhere. The first night we camped in a depression just off the road, and the second night we slept in an abandoned barn that had little of it’s roof left.
In the middle day we pulled into a shop at the same time as a young Japanese fellow (Masahito) who was walking and pulling a small cart from Shanghai to Europe, planning to take two years.
When we showed a picture of him to Leon here in Urumqi, he commented, “What a nutter!” I know that the “flow” of cycling gives me certain endorphins that walking does not, and I feel these endorphins help keep me sane. But is the Japanese guy really any more of a nutter than we are? Speaking of nutters, we used a few very tame camels to relieve the tedium of desert cycling.
The landscape as we descended into the Turpan depression was quite spectacular. We rode past an extensive vista of the Flaming Mountains, a ridge of spectacular red sandstone. In the desert in front of it stood a fenced enclosure marked “Scenic Spot of Flaming Mountains.” If we’d wanted to, we could have parked in their parking lot with the buses, paid to enter the enclosure, and taken a photo of the range with their strange statue in front of it. We didn’t stop. The Chinese have a need to gimmickize things that just don’t need gimmicks. I guess we have Disneyland, but then I’ve never been there either.
After two nights of water-rationed camping, it was really nice to wash in a hotel in Turpan.