28. May 2000, Kuche to Korla
We have been driving through the dry and hot northern parts of the Taklamakan desert all day. The engine was doing fine through all the dust and heat that we drove through, but we were just exhausted from the blazing heat. The road conditions were good except for short parts where the tarmac created waves in the street which guaranteed a very jumpy ride for about 10 minutes. On the side of the street we could observe how dozens of little tornadoes threw up sand and dirt in columns into the sky. The police closed off most roads for trucks for us, so that it was very convenient driving nearly all day. When we were watching a local performance of dancers in Korla after dinner, we saw a black wall of sand moving in from the west into the city. A few minutes later it was dark and we were engulfed in fine sand. So much for the car wash that we got just 15 minutes earlier. The fine sand just gets everywhere, in your hair, eyes, ears, mouth. Fortunately we were done driving by the time the sandstorm hit Korla.
Overall 1 hour 08 minutes penalty