Day 33

2. June 2000, Dunhuang to Zhangye

Today was planned to be a busy day, with two test sections. The last time we had two test sections in a day was in Greece with one of the sections at night, we lost 14 minutes. But the Chinese police made alterations to the timing of today's test sections, so that we managed to do them with zero penalty. As there are no further tests until Beiijing we anticipate to remain at ninth overall and first in our class but of course there is always the possibility of car breakdown or navigation errors (which also quite often results in penalties). After all, that is what makes this rally interesting, the probability of unlikely things happening increases as the days continue.
The relationship with the police is a bizarre one: The police is used to being in control of every possible aspect in the life of the Chinese. At one petrol station, a single policeman was able to control a crowd of about one hundred people just by shouting orders at individuals. But with us, they are faced with people who do not understand any of their Chinese and can therefore mostly get away by simple ignorance. Even one of the secret police who is traveling with us was first faced with laughter from one of the participants when he showed his secret service ID - the agent got very upset but other then that there was nothing he could do. Car number 101 had a small accident (a side mirror was broken) in a town when a Chinese car took his priority, since then he is followed by a police car giving him "driving advice" ("make use of the horn more often!") through loudspeakers. Others were asked to carry on or threatened with a fine when they were stopping for a picknick. Our team has had no problem so far but the relationship with the police is not always easy: They are doing their best to enable our rally to pass smoothly through their country but at the same time the foreigner's understanding of the role of the police in the society is totally different from that of the Chinese and this is where some friction arises. On our route there was a sign with Chinese letters beneath saying in English: "The police is the servant of the people"

TC 97: Dunhuang OUT
TC 98: Minghostan
41 5.80 km
TC 99: Anxi
11 105.45 km
TC 100: Yumen
59 227.80 km
TC 101: Road 312
36 44.15 km
PC: Jiayuguan      
TC 102: Zhangye IN
58 268.35 km

Overall 1 hour 10 minutes penalty

The official results can be looked up on this website

Time check Anxi

Time check 100, some 2000 m up high.

Entrance to the Jiayuguan fortification, one of the important passes for the Silk Route and later part of the Great Wall. The fortification is one of the best-preserved in China.

Okay, so the Chinese have robots, too. But why put them in a historic site and what is he trying to say?
(It felt strange to hear that metallic voice gurgling Chinese when we came up a passageway and had not spotted Mr. Roboto yet)



Police - friend or foe? Yesterday some of the more hot-blooded rally participants decided to overtake the official "hand-over convoy" from Xianjiang to Gansu which, understandably, annoyed the Gansu province governor and police. Since then they have been given out speeding tickets to some of the fast-driving rally participants. Speed limits in China are 40 km/h in towns and 80 km/h outside, but Chinese never (other then those forced by their vehicles) keep to those limits.
Today, many police cars are driving along our route and when we see one, we decide not to overtake.

Change of vehicle for Kaya

Karl, Sami and Victor, Hugh from car 43 (who always start one minute after Team Busch) at Jiayuguan.

More and more green can be seen, there are mountains in the back, some of them go up to 6000 m, but they are not part of any major mountain range.