26. May 2000, Kashgar to Aksu
We were told by the Rally Association yesterday that our authorisation to drive on the Southern Silk Route was withdrawn. Reasons have not been given and the withdrawal must have been quite recent. Unfortunately this kind of behaviour is quite common in the People's Republic of China. Several layers of bureaucracy and power make sudden changes in political and administrative permissions the rule of the day. So we have to accept the fact that we will not see Hotan and Minfeng and we will not be able to cross through the Taklamakan (we still get to drive along the Taklamakan). It is not a great loss as the things to see in the north are just as worthwhile as in the south. We will not be able to claim to have driven through the Taklamakan south-north. But with our desert experience so far we can easily do without the headaches caused by the heat and the possible torture caused by a breakdown in the middle of a desert. The Rally Association has come up with an alternative route taking the Northern Silk Route.
Our drive today was mostly through desert landscape all day. The only exceptions were small villages located along the route offering services to people and cars or oasis towns or villages with green trees surrounded by the dry sand.
Overall 1 hour 08 minutes penalty