Day 36

5. June 2000, Lanzhou to Yinchuan

Today's scenery was varied: We saw towns, villages, hills, flat land, rice farmland, desert, industry, busy streets, empty streets, very good roads, very bad roads.
We are definitely coming closer to the more populated areas now and it is about time: when I saw another desert coming up today for two hours, I realized how tired I got of seeing them. But we will probably see some more desert tomorrow and maybe the day after, but in North America we avoid them and we will only see them again in Morocco. The heat itself was not much of a problem as we had been lucky with the weather: Our hottest desert drive was probably in Turkmenistan, but we fear that Morocco in July will be much worse. The other problem with the desert is the sand dust, which manages to get everywhere, especially inside our trunk or inside the cabin, where it settles on bags, clothes, cameras, on the route book, between teeth, everywhere. We were very tempted today to try "sand-sledding" but when we thought about the prospect of carrying even more sand around we decided against it.
The other problem we increasingly face is Chinese traffic. Compared to Europe, there are not too many vehicles on the street, the problem is the kind of vehicles and the behaviour of their operators. Slow trucks with pitch-dark exhaust, amazingly slow motor-tricyles, cyclists unable to drive a straight line when they stare at our cars, people running or walking on the street, vehicles just driving onto a road without any concern for traffic, busses overtaking in the "third lane" between the two designated lanes, while other vehicles do not make way even if they are driving at speeds close to standstill. Chinese are also very insensitive to any light or horn signals. When we make the loudest of noise pointing out to someone that he is crossing the street at the wrong time, he or she does not even bother to look at us. We were used to some of it from Turkey (which has improved a lot over the years) but in China "creative driving" is taken to its extremes. The only reconciliation is that it would be a lot worse if all Chinese owned a car or maybe even a powerful, fast one.

TC 105: Lanzhou OUT
TC 106: Xinquan
29 162.85 km
TC 107: Sapotou
30 120.35 km
TC 108: Yinchuan IN
42 192.30 km

Overall 1 hour 10 minutes penalty

The official results can be looked up on this website

Driving through Chinese villages

Hay transport on the way to Sapotou

Sapotou, where Tengger Desert meets the Yellow River, Sami in front.

Chinese Entertainment, part II: If you are very brave, you can "Tarzan rail" across the Yellow River and back. The yellow tower on this side of the river has a steel rope connected to the red tower on the other side, from there, you can rail back again to this shore. After inspecting the Chinese "engineering" we decided that there is no rational reason why anyone should use the rail.

Only spare part needed for this street cleaning machine: Broomsticks


Another day, another desert, today: The Tengger Desert

Train passing at Sapotou (TC 107)

Chinese Entertainment, part I: If you are brave, you can slide down the dunes (sand-sledding). We decided that we don't want our clothes full of sand.

Farmers farming ... rice!

Traffic in Yinchuan is regulated for our arrival but is still very busy.