At first the road is lined with trees and shade then, there are willows. There's always a latent stench of garbage, we don't know where it comes from. We take a track that makes us leave the main road and cross two villages between cultivated fields. Here grow every centimeters possible, no house has a garden, a grain comes up to the front door, there is only one small concrete path that leads from the front door to the street. We stop to buy water and a canned beans soup in the village of Uubo where there is a beautiful temple and a beautiful stupa. Because of the crops everywhere to find a campsite is not easy, we find a little space between corn and rice behind a house that doesn't look inhabited. We are at an altitude of 1850 meters. We eat the soup of beans and canned vegetables, it is not bad but sweetish. We woke up at 6am when a guy in a car with microphone passes repeating a litany, our today alarm clock. The true alarm instead comes shortly after, two old women standing in front of the tent. One of them starts to cut the grass with a sickle while the other are watching us. There's also a guy with a 3 wheel scooter which instead ignores us completely. The only problem is that with the lady standing there we cannot pee. We dismantle the tent and we go to look for a place to have breakfast. It's 7:40am, we never started so early in our lives. Ah, before leaving Daniele takes a sip of the water that we bought yesterday. But it is not water! It's some unidentified and disgusting super-alcoholic. We give it to the guy who ignores us.
18 June 2015
So heading from Dunhuang to Zhangye!
All night it rained and still raining when we wake. We go to the station, this works like an airport. You have to show the ticket at the entrance, otherwise you can't get in, pass the bags through a metal detector and enter the strictly controlled gate. You must wait in the all cannot go on the track. so when they open the doors just before the train's departure the usual pushing crowd squeezes us. We get on the train, the seats are assigned, it is full. There are dispensers of boiling water to cook instant noodles or make tea, just like in Kazakhstan. A funny thing is that the train crew trying to sell rubbish all along the trip, set for nail care, lighters, bright toys... we haven't seen anyone buying anything... Through the window we see only desert, so now I'm sure, the famous Hexi Corridor, the road that goes from Turpan all the way to Lanzhou (across Dunhuang, Jiayuguan and indeed Zhangye), this mythological stretch of Gobi desert across the so called Silk Road is just a bare, ugly, polluted expanse of grey rock. Tough way for the merchants centuries ago, and tough still for the wandering touring cyclist. And the Qilian Mountains, that should at least provide some distraction for the eyes, are not visible from here.
the road from Turpan to Dunhuang
Turpan bus station, heading to Dunhuang. I get into a bank thinking it's the ticket office, and thus we get the really friendly help of an employee, who speaks some English and comes with us to the real ticket office. To put the bike in the trunk of the bus you have to pay a small bribe to be divides by the driver and the baggage desk lady. The task itself is not easy, there's no space and there are two more Chinese cyclists. But fortunately the passengers are few, I think about ten, and we get more places to sleep. Bus is slow and pretty boring and we get three passport controls, XinJang people's mobilty it's quite restricted, especially if you're ethnic Uyghur you're sure you're gonna be checked often. Indeed there's a man with a Taqiyah (typical Muslim hat) and beard that gets some problems. From the bus we also see police practicing martial arts in the police station courtyard, weird.
Cycloscope is a project by Daniele Giannotta and Elena Stefanin. A life on the road to gain knowledge and share experiences
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