The road is nice, lovely grassland dotted with colored flowers. We ride twenty kilometers and then take a small road to the north (for free) that after a few kilometers of slow climb begins to be a gentle downhill, leaving us to enjoy the scenery without even pedaling.
Only slight problem is that we peck first a hail storm and then, an hour later, a huge hail storm, a single endless thunder of 10 minutes. We try to take shelter from the icy bullets behind the bikes, some hailstones are as big as an egg. And our poor rain gear can't cope with such great power.
Finally we get something dry and eat a bit of bread and honey. Shortly after arrives the owner of goats and helmets, a policeman who actually is a goatherd! It does not seem at all surprised that two Western cyclist are in his office in underwear and socks, or he must be good to conceal the surprise. Comes also the wife from the close house, she invite us inside and gives us some boiled water, typically Chinese. It seems that for some veiled reasons, maybe connected with Taoism, most of the Chinese avoid drinking cold drinks (cold is Yin, so negative). Their house is small, made of mud and with no floor. Not a easy life for police-shepherds here in the bare mountains.
In this area there are yurts that are not round like those of the Kyrgyz or Mongolian but are shaped like a house. After the mountainous part occupied by nomads and pastures, begins an endless series of cultivated fields. Through small villages, all poor, made of mud. We are now on a "minor" road that goes almost parallel to the highway some 70km north, we hope to fallow this road as much further as we can, since the south one is mostly a fenced highway in the desert. We stop at a convenience store. The owner is an old small, nice lady, we buy noodles, soy this time, never tryied before. Today we can do 99 kilometers! We stop in a small group of trees near the road and cook pasta with tomato sauce that we carry with us from Kazakhstan, probably the last for a while.
We stop by a gas station to get water from the tap, but nothing comes out. They give us some good one. It seems that in China tap water is just not good, the taste is actually a bit disgusting. After the experiences in Azerbaijani better not risk with muddy water.
Trying to keep on following the north route we almost get lost, Opens Street Maps of China really sucks, but i think mainly because there are so many brand new roads, the old ones being dismantled very fast so that is hard to keep in pace with this. And Xin Jang is one of the most remote areas of China. So at eventually we end up going back towards the highway, too bad.
There aren't many places where to stay and eventually we put the tent between a few small saplings. Daniele cooks the worst dinner ever. Sticky "noodles" accompanied by unknown vacuumed vegetables with a weird vinegar flavor. We will see if we`ll ever clean the mess from this starchy stickiness
Honestly i don`t see the point of cycling this hell.
The next morning Daniele is struck by a stomach ache and so we stay in Urumqi one more day to take the opportunity to see the city. Actually it is prettier than the first impression we had from the bus. We cross a few parks in the city where for the first time we get to see what the Chinese do in the parks: line dancing to Turkishy music, attended by all ethnic groups together (under the "vigilant" eyes of heavy armed military anyway), preposterous gymnastics (there are those who walk backwards, who scratches his back against some special tool, or his the butt against concrete columns), then there is an area where old men practice calligraphy, writing on the ground with brush and water, other people play Xiangqi (Chinese chess) while some play tennis with a ball tied to the racket by a string (?), and then obviously some ping-pong monsters (every Chinese is according to our European standards).
Tomorrow we leave for Turpan, an oasis town along the Silk Road, and also the hottest and lowest place in China.