We all convened at Turpan’s Johns bar behind the hotel for breakfast. They had opened early by special request. By just after 8.00 we were on the road again and back into the desert.
It was not long before the cool morning air started warming up. 10 hours later at the end of our journey it was intense.
‘Desert’ is a word that conjures up a vision of miles of the same. There is a lot of that, but at times the scenery changed dramatically and always there is evidence of the Chinese efforts to master the elements. Not long after leaving the laid back suburban feel of Turpan we were travelling through a man made mountain pass. The two lane road twisted and turned through the contours of the cutting and once again we commented on the skill and ingenuity that had obviously gone into its creation, particularly as somewhere out of our sight there was another carriageway carrying the traffic in the other direction.
Later we were to see watering systems that allowed acres of chilli peppers to grow, plantations of new woodland and fields and fields of maize. Whole cities reared up in what seemed a totally inhospitable landscape. In the more remote areas menacing looking chemical factories with a maze of domes and exterior pipe work belched vapour out of tall chimneys
When we stop now there is no English signage at service areas, only Chinese and Arabic characters. We are definitely moving to the western extremes of China. We have travelled just over 6,000 kilometres since we set out on the truck nearly a month ago.
We arrived in Kuche pretty drained. It had been a long day. Jason was excited about the buffet opportunity the hotel next to ours offered. Some went there for dinner but we set off for a small market that had been sighted near the hotel to forage for fruit, vegetables and local delicacies. We were rewarded handsomely by smiling Muslim ladies who supplied us with savoury flatbreads (at last bread that is not sweet!) and small lamb patties tasting very much like a Cornish pasty with less pastry. We could find no cold beer, so collected some from the truck ‘fridge on the way back and adjourned to Wendy and Sarah’s room to partake of our feast.
I fell into bed feeling the most weary I have felt thus far on the trip.