Day 37

6. June 2000, Yinchuan to Baotou

The roads today were bad at the beginning, very good in-between and very bad around TC 111. Most of our drive was through desert land and when we passed through the occasional small village we were surprised to find out how many people were out to see us in spite of the rain. But when we entered one middle-sized city right after a nuclear power plant around 4 o'clock afternoon, we were absolutely shocked. There were tens of thousands of people on the alley and a majority of them wanted to take part in the action by standing in the way to stop the car. The police were in a minority at that point and therefore unable to control the situation. It took us a while to get out of there but we were relieved once we were as some of the Chinese considered it good fun to give our car a slap or a sign of bravery not to make a move while in front of our car. At this point we were thankful to the Chinese police as they were trying their best to get us through the crowds.
Such situations are quite stressful as the slower one drives, the more the crowd closes in, but the faster one drives, the more dangerous the situation could be. We never came to a full stop but it takes nerves to keep on driving when there are people a few metres in front of your bumper.
We are not quite sure why our rally event did attract so much attention but we presume that it must have been broadcasted in the TV news. The attention people give to our event does indeed vary a lot. In England, France classic car enthusiasts were awaiting us in small crowds along the road. In French and Italian villages people had got out their chairs to watch us go by. In Greece the horn and light signal greetings from other cars started and since the middle of Turkey medium and big crowds are awaiting us in most villages and towns. Many people shout "hello" at us and kids sometimes ask for our "autographs" which they collect on some piece of paper - I am not sure what for. Kids everywhere are always the most enthusiastic but adults also show their admiration.

Baotou is the largest city in "Inner Mongolia" and also lies on the Yellow River which we have been following recently. With about one million inhabitants, Baotou is a modern, industrial city with few sights for tourists. Several hours to the south of Baotou lies the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan which allegedly contains his ashes, but we have not time to see it.

TC 109: Yinchuan OUT
TC 110: Qipanjing
27 134.27 km
TC 111: Dongsheng
50 306.90 km
TC 112: Baotou IN
39 120.75 km

Overall 1 hour 10 minutes penalty

The official results can be looked up on this website

Shock in the morning: Our star is missing. After talking to the translator, he talks to a woman from the travel office, who talks to the hotel manager, who talks to the guards on duty. After a few minutes our star reappears: Apparently it had "fallen on the ground" and the guards have found it.
- Ah yes!

Another desert, but with all this rain it just does not feel like the real thing.

Lessons in crowd control: If there is no police car around...

...crowds will close in on you and force you to stop.


Nr. 7 withstands the rain in his open Lanchester.

Queuing for petrol at time-check 110 Qipanjing, we decide to stay in the car.

Crowds: many children in uniform track suits

Kenji and Takatsugu from Japan, following us in their Datsun (69) are currently ranked number one for the London to Peking rally (and will win in all likelihood). They are good drivers and real rally freaks, having driven VW, GT, crash car, etc.
So how come they are not ranked number one overall? (that is, including "Around the World" participants) In France, by mistake, they took on Diesel instead of petrol, which lost them 50 minutes and cost them 33 minutes penalty.