2000, Aksu to Kuche
a bit like yesterday, except that there was more green along the route
(it's either tall trees and bushes around the cities or just desert and
shrubs). The only exception was the sight of the Tien Shan mountains in
the north most of the day.
The route was very easy-going and generously timed so there is nothing
to report from the sportive side either. Kuche or Kuqa is a smaller city
than Aksu, so there is even less to report about it.
It is probably a good opportunity now to talk about our general impression
of the People's Republic of China. I must say that I was positively surprised,
especially driving out of the former Soviet Union countries. I had last
been to China sometime around 1983. We visited Shanghai and were guests
of a state company with which we have a joint-venture. In those days,
I remember, everything seemed gray and children on the street were following
us because they had never seen foreigners.
Now, less than twenty years later, I visit some of the last provinces
of China and still I am astonished at the progress within the last decades.
People are still staring at foreigners but their lifes have changed. A
consumer society has developed in China and there are coloured banners
advertising goods on the streets. There are still donkey carts but there
are also many cars, the police drive big Toyota jeeps. In Aksu we went
into a super-market and found a reasonable variety of Chinese packaged
goods. I think China, in many aspects, is more developed than the former
SU states as it is less dependent on imported goods. The quality of food
has also been better in China and there seems to be a greater choice.
On the other hand, there is the question of individual freedom and rights
in China and this still seems to be under-developed: People are not allowed
to travel where they want, freedom of speech is also restricted and bureaucrats
like to power-play. On the positive, I have seen only one picture of the
party leader Jang Zeming, so far, but we do not know what all these banners
in Chinese are saying. Travelling through a country does not allow a full
critical impression of its system but China certainly has developed a
lot since 1979 and we are optimistic that it will continue to develop
in the right direction.
|TC 82: Aksu OUT
|TC 83: Kuche IN
Overall 1 hour 08
official results can be looked up on this website
The Tien Shan
mountains can be seen most of the day
There has been
some rain over night, roads are occasionally blocked by muddy water
does not offer much excitement
In all the cities
we drive through, big crowds are awaiting us waving, cheering or
We get our first impression of the high population density in China.
So far: If an area is inhabitable, there are people.
and they provide
a good background for photos, so we got out our tripod
Mercedes Ponton 220 shows how it copes with the mud
A few reroutes
off-road due to road works provide a bit of diversion.
and policeman showing us the direction in ballet manner: A common
sight in China but there are some who are just plain waving.