Day 109-112 (Korla – Turpan)

Day 109 Korla – Yanqi 59 km
Day 110 Yanqi – Service station 155 km
Day 111 Service station – Toksun 119 km
Day 112 Toksun – Turpan 68 km

We got lost when we left Korla and didn’t find the way back to the motorway. Instead of riding on the smooth tarmac we ended up leaving the town on a small dirtroad that took us through the industrial areas at the outskirts of town. There was an intense traffic of trucks and we felt much more unsafe on this little side road than on the big motorway and our intention was to get back to it as quickly as possible.

Shops in the outskirts of Korla

Shops in the outskirts of Korla

Although Korla is a oasis city with lots of greenery, parks and tree lined avenues, the desert is not far away. Right after having left the industrial areas of the town we got this view which clearly shows how close the desert and the city are to each other.

Korla is an oasis city and one doesn't have to go far from town to be in the desert

Korla is an oasis city and one doesn’t have to go far from town to be in the desert

Leaving town on a backroad took us through some very beuatiful mountain areas. The road was steep and the surface was just gravel but there was very little traffic and we could enjoy the scenery undisturbed by cars and trucks.

Riding behind Wej

Riding behind Wej

We followed this little backroad as it twisted itself through a valley, but all of a sudden it was going to pass under the motorway. There was a staircase down from the motorway and we wouldn’t allow ourselves to miss an opportunity like this and quickly carried our bikes and luggage up to the big and nice road where we could continue at a much higher speed.

The desert is dry – that is actually the definition of a desert – but there are exceptions. When we approached the city of Yanqi we went across a bridge over a river leading from the Tian Shan mountains to Lake Bosten. This lake is half the size of lake Vättern in Sweden and we saw a number of signs for seaside (lakeside?) resorts with pictures of kids playing on banana boats…..

When we passed this stream we could see herons and other seabirds in or around the water. Seeing a heron in a desert is something I never would have expected.

the heron has just left...

The heron has just left….

When we got closer to the city of Yanqi it turned out that even this city would have been a big city by Swedish standards. It has a lot of high rise buildings in the centre and in the surrounding areas we could see numerous construction sites where large apartment blocks were being built.

Yanqi behind the river

Yanqi behind the river

Korla and Yanqi are not far apart, only some 60 km. Our intention was to have a half day of rest and start late which meant we couldn’t expect to get any further than Yanqi. We didn’t want to camp and went into the city to find a hotel to stay at. For the first time we ran into the trouble all foreigners traveling to cities off the beaten track in China sooner or later have to face – finding a hotel. Hotels in China needs a special license to be able to host foreigners.

The first hotel we asked wouldn’t host us but told us try at another further down the street. On the way there we found another one that labelled itself as a business hotel. Wej went in to ask but was denied and told to go to another hotel. The front desk staff helped her by drawing a map how to get there.

From our hotel next to the "people's square" in Yanqi

From our hotel next to the “people’s square” in Yanqi

We find it very interesting how a hotel in an country so reliant on export as China is, can call itself ”business hotel” while not being able to host a foreigner.

When we later arrived at the only hotel being able to host us Wej went inside to check in while I waited outside. A young boy at the age of around 5 walked past me holding his parents hands. He was so surprised to see me and stared so intensly that his eyes almost popped out. When he had passed he almost walked backwards staring at me while his poor parents seemed to be embarrased for his behaviour.

As we made eye contact the parents lost their embarrasment. I told the boy to come and shake my hand and his parents encouraged him. He walked slowly as if he was approaching a kid eating monster…. 🙂

All the way we have got used to be the odd ones, but here in China it is only me. Wej blends in and everyone seems to think that she is chinese, which is not completely wrong. Nobody expects me to be able to speak chinese so every time Wej is approached by curious people I can take a step back and pretend to be a kid eating monster.

The ride from Yanqi towards the town of Hoxhud was not very interesting. It was the same old motorway and the same old mountains. After a stop at a gas station just after a tollstation we continued towards the next service area some 110 km away where we intended to camp.

Heading to the mountains

Heading to the mountains

Before reaching that service area the road crosses the mountain ridge that we having been cycling along for almost two weeks and that we have got bored starting at. When going across those mountains we got some very nice views. The landscape changed from rather boring to very fascinating within only a few kilometers.

New type of grafitti - white stones on the red mountain side

New type of grafitti – white stones on the red mountain side

On the way down we got some very nice downhill sections where we overtook many trucks that descended from the mountains at very low speed using their lowest gears. At one of the turns we saw something we didn’t know what it was. It looked like a ramp beside one of the sharp bends of the road. When we got closer we saw that the ramp was signposted many times and covered by a thick layer of gravel which made us believe that this was a ramp where runaway trucks that have lost their capactiy to brake can get their vehicles to a stop.

Ramp for runaway trucks to stop at

Ramp for runaway trucks to stop at

If two empty trucks are going the same way, then it's smarter if one carries the other... :-)

If two empty trucks are going the same way, then it’s smarter if one carries the other… 🙂

I have never seen such ramps before but I have now learnt that they are common in mountainous regions throughout the world.

On the day we cycled to Toksun we started at around 1000 meters altitude and climbed up to 1750 meters. It was a smooth climb on the shoulder of the motorway. We stopped many times to take photos of the very beautiful landscape. When it then was time to descend we would loose very much altitude. Toksun is located in the Turpan depression which is the lowest lying area in China. The deepest part of the depression is around 150 meters below the sea level.

Beautiful shapes in the desert

Beautiful shapes in the desert

When we descended we felt it got warmer and warmer and when we reached the outskirts of Toksun the heat was almost unbearable. Just as we rolled into the first eatery at the entry to the town I got today’s first flat tyre. I only had to walk the bicycle 5 meters and could fix it in the shade at the restaurant. It wouldn’t have been fun to change innertubes in the heat outside that restaurant so I didn’t complain. If to get a puncture in extreme heat it is good to get it 5 meters from where you would have stopped anyway…. 🙂

Sand.....

Sand…..

SONY DSC

We stayed quite a long time at the restaurant to both eat and wait for the cooler evening hours. We planned to cycled through the city and camp outside, but in an intersection I got today’s second flat tyre. Since the sun was just about to set we changed to a new innertube in less than 10 minutes – we are improving our team work when it comes to fixing flat tyres….

Here we go again...

Here we go again…

After some 5-6 km I felt that the wheel we jsut repaired got softer and softer and I suspected we had been too quick when repairing it. Too tired to fix it we turned into the first camp spot we could find which turned out to be next to an onion field.

The ride from Toksun to Turpan took us over a vast plain of stony desert. On the way down a hill I saw wind turbines. Not one, not 10, not 1000 but thousands. They were placed in the desert and they all faced to direction where we were going 🙁

We arrived to Turpan early in the afternoon. Our plan was to take a rest in the afternoon and start early tomorrow.

9 thoughts on “Day 109-112 (Korla – Turpan)

    1. admin Post author

      Does “Gwailo” mean monster or simply “farang”?

      See you in Thailand by the end of the year…. 🙂

      Reply
  1. Mamma we

    Det är ju ett riktigt elände med alla punkteringar, Hur många slangar och hur mycket fix och solution cyklar ni omkring med i packningen? Snygga bilder, snygga beskrivningar, jättekul varje gång det kommer något nytt på bloggen. Beskrivningen av den lille pojken och hans föräldrar var trevlig. Jag minns när du berättade om när du var elev i Banglen och hur skolkamraterna ville ta på ditt ljusa hår. Du tyckte det var besvärande då, nu finns det ju inte mycket att ta på.
    PoK

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Just nu tror jag vi har sju extraslangar, vilket är ett par stycken för mycket. Egentligen borde vi klara oss med 3-4 st men man inte vill ju helst inte slabba med solution när man fått en punka utan bara snabbt trycka i en ny slang och sticka vidare. Av detta skäl har vi just nu väldigt många slangar och runt 50 lagningslappar och mycket lim. Vi hoppas detta inte skall behövas så himla länge till för det sliter på däcken att hålla på och ta av och sätta på dem hela tiden.

      Reply
  2. Barbro

    Wow, vilken grej ni är ute på, helt fantastiskt tycker jag och väldigt roligt att läsa om er resa. När ni kommer till Thailand och OM ni alls är i närheten av Ban Phe i Rayongprovinsen så är ni hjärtligt välkomna hem till mig och min man på besök. Hör av er på min e-post i så fall.

    Ett riktigt lycka till i fortsättningen. Hälsningar Barbro

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Vad kul att du har hittat till vår blogg. Tack så mycket för inbjudan till Ban Phe.
      Vi kommer troligtvis att ta oss in i Thailand via bron i Nong Khai och sedan snedda över landet mot Banglen utanför Nakorn Pathom som är min “hemort” i Thailand. Därefter bär det av till Bangkok som är Wejs hemort så vi kommer nog inte att komma förbi Ban Phe under denna resa. Vi har dock nu varit långt ifrån havet under många månader och vi kommer säkert att ta oss till kusten fortare än kvickt och då tittar vi gärna förbi.

      /Joakim

      Reply
  3. Mamma we

    Vem är Barbro? Träffade jag henne när jag var i butiken som sålde varor tillverkade i Chjiang Mais närhet?
    Visst är jag en nyfiken mamma?
    Det är lördag kväll. Jag har haft min kusin Barbro här på middag. Vi åt riktigt svensk söndagsmiddag på en lördag- Slottsstek med god sås, svamp, sallad och kokt potatis. Efteråt drack vi Irish coffe. Vi mådde riktigt bra efter detta. Nu är kl 20.45 och det känns inte som om sängen är långt borta. I morgon skall jag till Christinae kyrka för att ta emot en ny kyrkoherde i tyska församlingen och då måste jag se fraiche ut.. (Hur stavas fraiche egentligen?)
    I morgon är det 1 september och man får, med rätta, säga att sommaren är över. I alla fall min parkering utanför huset där jag bor.
    Allt gott till er båda från Mamma we

    Reply
  4. Barbro

    Hej Mamma we!

    Klart man skall vara en nyfiken mamma, det är jag själv och eftersom ingen annan här på bloggen kan berätta vem jag är skall jag göra det. Dumt av mig att inte presentera mig förresten.
    Jag är 63 år och bor i Thailand sedan fyra år tillsammans med min man, strax utanför Ban Phe i Rayongprovinsen. När jag var yngre spenderade jag och min man semestrarna på cykel men inget som ens kommer i närheten av det här som du förstår. Nu har vi i alla fall hamnat här nere på “ålderns höst” och intresset för motion har inte misnkat (det är väl kroppen som inte vill vara med på samma sätt, hihi….) Det lät så trevligt, spännande och utmanande det din son och hans flickvän gör nu så jag kunde inte låta bli att tala om hur trevligt det skulle vara att få träffa dem. Min man kommer förresten från Göteborg, Majorna närmare bestämt och själv har jag bott där i 30 år, de sista tio åren bodde vi i Alingsås och trivdes väldigt bra med det, tills vi flyttade hit.
    En liten snabbpresentation av mig. Ha det bra Mamma we, kanske vi hörs fler gånger.
    Barbro

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Vilket osannolikt sammanträffande 🙂 Jag är född och uppvuxen i Gräfsnäs c:a 2 mil norr om Alingsås.
      /Joakim

      Reply

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