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第27日目 -シェンリダバン峠からバルグンタイ町のちょっと向こうまで(日本語要約)
August 18th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国

Today’s Distance / 今日の走行距離:84.55km
Time on bike / 走行時間:5h 19m
Average speed / 平均速度:15.8km/h
Total distance to date / 現在までの積算距離:1090.8km


It is official. The Chinese need to introduce another national law that requires all babies born to be given chill pills. Maybe then China will be a much more chilled out place. Skip to the bottom of this post if you want to find out why I am really hacked off right now.

The day started well with a 900m vertical metre climb up the face of a mountain. It was cold with snow on the ground and in places on the road. Just before the zig zags began there was a small gathering of yurts where I was invited in for milky tea and stale bread for breakfast. This was a welcome change from noodles.

Early morning sunshine towards Shenli Daban Pass, western China / 早朝の日射し - シェンリダバン峠へ向かって

Yurt at the base of Shenli Daban Pass, western China / カザフ族のユルト - シェンリダバン峠へ向かって

I had frozen gear cables and brake cables, so I only had one gear and front brakes that locked up at will. Lucky for me, for the first three hours of the day I only needed one gear (the easiest), and going up hill I rarely needed the brakes.

Um, no, really, it was really, really steep - Shenli Daban Pass, western China / ほんんんっとうにきつかったとです - シェンリダバン峠(天山山脈、中国)

I was secretly stoked at how well my body was coping with the altitude at the top. That was what I was most worried about when considering going this way over to Narat. I had heard many bad things about altitude sickness, and I wasn’t too keen to experience it. However even after being photographed numerous times at the top by rich fourwheel driving Chinese people, I was still feeling fine.

Who said recumbents can't climb hills? Shenli Daban Pass, western China / リカンベントは坂、問題ない - シェンリダバン峠(天山山脈、中国)

Now, those of you that thought that perhaps my brakes and gears would thaw out once I got going, please think again. No thawing action for me until about half way down the other side. This gave for a much more slow decent than I had hoped for, but the road was bad enough that any great speed would not have been possible anyway.

Massive ruts coming down from Shenli Daban Pass, western China. And my brakes were frozen. / シェンリダバン峠から降りて、道路が悪化する - シェンリダバン峠(天山山脈、中国)

I took one hour out for lunch at 3500m, and after being given a watermelon by a passing truck (man, that was a good watermelon), I was on my way with brakes and gears all in order. The valley opened up into massive steppe with horsemen driving unsaddled horses down the hills. The road continued to be unsealed, however it was in good enough condition to squeeze up to 45km/h out of the bike (yes, I was wearing my helmet!).

Wide valley after Shenli Daban Pass, western China / 広い谷 - シェンリダバン峠から降りて(天山山脈、中国)

The downhill lasted all day, however the road conditions did not. For the last two hours or so of riding I was riding on pot holes with bits of road interspersed between them. The bike handles the bumps well however, and loose gravel, while scary, is fine as long as you keep a light grip on the steering. Letting the bike go where it wants (to a degree) is the key to keeping it (and you) upright.

So that brings me to what is putting a fire in my bottom tonight. I am currently sitting in my tent that I put up in the dark amongst houses in a small town. I had originally put the tent up in a nice field next to a river after getting the permission of the owner and two uniformed army soldiers. However, at about 9:30pm (20 minutes before dark), four army bigwig-looking fellas stroll up and start asking lots of probing questions about where I had come from, where I plan on going, where is your passport, where is your official itinerary…

It appears that I had pitched my tent too close to a very small army base. “For our safety” we would like for you to move your tent one kilometre away up stream. I didn’t have much option but to pack all my gear up and leave. So there I was fuming as I biked along trying to find another spot to camp in the dark.

I’m a New Zealander, for goodness sake! What on earth could the threat be from me? I guess all foreigners are suspicious until proven otherwise. Or just suspicious full stop. So there we go. If you see an army base in China, just keep biking. If you can see it from your tent, you are a spy.

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第26日目 - ホウシア町から何とか峠まで
August 17th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国

Today’s Distance / 今日の走行距離:34.04km
Time on bike / 走行時間:4h 45m
Average speed / 平均速度:7.1km/h
Total distance to date / 現在までの積算距離:1006.2km


Run down mushroom factory on the way to Balguntay, China / 椎茸工場 - ちょっと修理が必要が - バルグンタイ町へ向かって(中国)

解決方法はひとつだけです。汗をかかないことです。これを実現するために、自分の普通の力の30%くらいしか出しては行けない。南極(South Polar)やほかの極端に寒いところへ歩く人達もこのやり方を執行するらしいです。英語では「Polar plod」といいます。日本語で直訳すると「極地でとぼとぼ歩く」となるかな?とにかく、寒いときには雨が振っていなくても、汗をかかないことに気を付けないと行けません。

On the way to Balguntay, China / バルグンタイ町へ向かって(中国)


What's this? Another cyclist crazy enough to brave the slopes up to the pass? / あれ?馬鹿な人は僕だけではない!もうひとりのサイクリストとの出会い - シェンリダバン峠へ向かって


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第25日目 - 名前の知らないまちからホウシア町へ(日本語要約)
August 16th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国

Today’s Distance / 今日の走

Time on bike / 走行時間:3h 55m

Average speed / 平均速度:11.7km/h

Total distance to date / 現在までの積算距離:972.2km


Today began early. About 2am to be exact. My stomach woke me up with cramps, and my bowels were screaming for the loo. I passed two lots of fairly loose ones before my stomach decided it was time to bring whatever it could find up and out my mouth. By that time there was nothing to bring up, so I had three very unpleasant dry reches.

Mild stomach cramps and diarrhea have lasted all day, however they seem to have died down in the last few hours (it is now 8pm). Lack of apetite continues however, although that could be contributed in part to the fact that all people eat around here is noodles. The lack of variation doesn’t exactly do wonders for my appetite.

The cause of all this mayhem is unknown. I ate the following yesterday:

- Pork steamed buns and rice porrage
- Some trailmix of dried fruits and nuts
- Mutton fried rice with tea
- Half a honeydew watermelon
- Two packets of instant noodles
- Some more trailmix

Apart from the tea that came with lunch, I only drank bottled water.

Some possibilities:

- I do remember while eating the melon, part of the unwashed skin went into my mouth.
- I haven’t been too vigilant with washing my hands before eating. Perhaps my dirty hands contributed to it.

Basically, the fact that I could not eat much at all today made today a generally unpleasant day of riding. I had a three hour sleep in the middle of the day after lunch because I was feeling crook. After that it was all uphill through a very narrow gully. Nowhere to relieve my angry bowels.

Moving the herds on the way to Houxia, China / 家畜を移動させる - ホウシャ町へ向かって(中国)

Houxia is an interesting town though, as has been most of the area that I have cycled through today. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and therefore ended up on a small rural road through farming land. It was like stepping back in time with clay brick houses and little children (some only seemed five or six) leading cows through the fields.

Clay brick sheds and houses on the way to Houxia, China / 土壁家 - ホウシャ町へ向かって(中国)

Houxia is a friendly town right in the middle of the mountains. It’s existance is due only to the massive dirty industry that they have here. I’m not sure exactly what is being made. I’m not sure exactly what is being made, however there is a building that looks like a foundry building and a big coal powered power generation station.

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第24日目 - ウルムチから名前の知らない町へ
August 15th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国

Today’s Distance / 今日の走行距離:52.76km
Time on bike / 走行時間:5h 06m
Average speed / 平均速度:10.3km/h
Total distance to date / 現在までの積算距離:926km




On the road to Houxia, China, from Urumqi / ホウシャ町へ向かって(中国)


And the road goes on and on on the way to Houxia, China / 永遠と続く道路(中国、烏魯木斉)


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August 15th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国



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第23日目 - 烏魯木斉へ戻る
August 14th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国











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第22日目 - 天池から烏魯木斉までの途中まで(英語のみ)
August 13th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国

Distance: about 60km

 Got away from Heavenly Lake late at 11am, and already the tourists were there in their hoards. I couldn’t believe that there was a like band playing cheesey pop music at a very loud volume at such a beautiful otherwise tranquil place. Are us humans that addicted to loud gaudy stimulus? It defeats me.

 Today’s camp spot was amongst the dry hills between Heavenly Lake and Urumqi. So quiet and still.

Desert campsite (somewhere between Urumqi and Heavenly Lake) / 烏魯木斉と天池の間

To get out of view of the road, I had to cycle about 1km into the hills on hard clay and foliage that included some nasty thorns. I am impressed with the tyres I am using though. I counted 81 thorns in my tyres as I took them out (55 front, 26 back), but none caused a puncture.

Big meaty thorns cannot hurt these tyres! / このタイヤ、強いよ!これでもパンクなし (烏魯木斉と天池の間)

Big meaty thorns cannot hurt these tyres!/ このタイヤ、強いよ!これでもパンクなし(烏魯木斉と天池の間)

The dry hills were teeming with life.

Hey little fella (North of Urumqi) / おう、あなた!ちっちゃいな(烏魯木斉と天池の間)

Big beauty in small things (North of Urumqi) / 小さなもの、壮大な美しさ(烏魯木斉と天池の間)

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第21日目 - 来ました!
August 12th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国


Now we're talking - Heavenly Lake western China / 天池、最高










Um, camels? / 本物のラクダた!


<おオ!You speak English? I speak little English.>と明らかに酔払っているように向こうが大声で言う 。





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及20晩朕 - ごめなさいです!
August 11th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, ウェブ作成, 中国




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第19日目 - ウルムチ
August 10th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国




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第17,18日目 - ウルムチ行きの列車(日本語要約)
August 9th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国












Where do I start?

So I lug all my gear down the stairs to the platform after being guided through the labarynth of accessways of Beijing West Station by a first-class use only porter, to find myself at the very back of the train. 18 carriages and a very sore shoulder later I arrive at my carriage. Carriage number seventeen. Over the 45 hours it would take to get to Urumqi, row 22 of carriage number seventeen would become my world.

I got onto the train 1 hour before it was due to leave, so I was the first of the row 22ers to arrive. It is always a good idea to get on the train early in the hard seat section, or you may find your baggage put somewhere you can’t keep an eye on it rather than above your seat.

About 20 minutes later three men, one in his 20’s, one in his 30’s and one who appeard to be in his 60’s arrived at row 22. I didn’t notice it right away, but they were speaking a language that was not at all like Chinese, and they had a demeanour about them that seemed to ooze a mix of pride and joviality. The older fellow was wearing a square-ish embroidered hat that only covered the top of his head and did not suggest any practability when it came to keeping the sun of his head or face.

The first conversation the four of us tried to have failed terribly, and the situation only improved once I got out my pen, paper, and life saving ‘Picture Talk’ booklet. The first exchange of culture was when we discussed what meat I eat in New Zealand (even after I drew a simple world map, they were still not sure what or where New Zealand was). They pointed to the picture of a cow, sheep and chicken. Yes, yes, yes, I said. They also pointed to the pig Yes, I said. That was received with an expression of jovial disapproval. So next I pointed to the pig and I was replied with a great flurry of waving of hands and ‘no, no, no’ in a strong Arabic kind of accent. They were all laughing as if to say ‘of course not! What are you talking about?!’

Around this time, more and more of these mystery people piled onto the train. The lucky ones who got tickets with seats shooed the ones without out of their seats. ‘Who are these people?’ I was thinking when I heard in perfect English ‘Hello, where are you from?’ It was Behtiyor, a university student from Beijing who also happened to be one of these people who did not look at all Asian. ‘More importantly, where are you people from?’ I asked. Behtiyor proceeded to explain that they were the Uyghur people of western China. So what nationality are you? We are Chinese…

I could not get over how very confusing the situation was. Some of these people could not read Chinese, however they were second or third generation Uyghur living in China. They piled onto the train carrying platic bags full of round flat bread, some with mutton peices on top. The women were wearing head scarfs. All very confusing…

The train started moving. I had a twinge of ‘there’s no going back now’ feeling. The first day of scenery was dense population. Fertile land growing all kinds of crops including corn, rice, apples, oranges. Big cities and smaller villages crammed into very small space. Rather than the scenery, the more interesting thing was the interraction of the Uyghur people. A truely jovial lot which included Jilal, a 23 year old chap who had broken his wrist during his trip to Beijing and spent most of the 45 hours on the train with his arm held in the air to alleviate the pain of the fracture. This was however the only indication that it was sore. He was not only jovial but also very vocal. His favourite pastime (apart from eating, by the looks of his rotund belly) was singing Uyghur folk songs and getting in heated coversations with other (Chinese) passengers.

Sleeping on a carriage that only has seats requires a great deal of innovation. This was by no means an exception at row 22. Comradieary (can someone tell me of the spelling of that word?) and cooperation between passengers came into play the most at these times. I was happy to be able to provide my rolled up tent as a pillow for the 60 year old and 30 year old fellows for their makeshift bed on the floor under the seats. With these two on the floor, this meant that in a set of six seats (two rows of three facing each other), there was now room for two people to rest their heads on the middle table, and two to lie down on the remaining seats with their legs hanging in the isle. The latter two are comfy enough, but are woken often when a person needs to get down the isle to go to the loo.

On the first night, I was lying down on the seats with my legs hanging down in the isle. I got no sleep. No, really, I got no sleep. On the second night, I had my head on the table. I slept like a baby. But I’m sure that’s only because I was so exhausted that I would have slept on a bed of nails in a spider infested closet with no worries.

I’m really not sure what people do to keep themselves entertained on such a long journey in a confined space. As for me, I was reveling in the sheer joy of being surrounded by people that were not Asian. Not that I have anything against Asian races, but I guess I just enjoyed the diversity for a change. The language I was surrounded with was so different from any language I had experienced before that just to be in amongst it was sheer joy.

One incident stands out as especially moving. Row 22 was engaged in its usual jovial ranting and raving with the occassional translation from Behtiyor when all of a sudden Behtiyor says ‘I need your help to do my salad.’

‘OK, no problem, I have nothing else to do.’ I replied.

I was still sitting, waiting for something to happen. The other guy on the row of three had already stood, so when Behtiyor indicated that I should also stand, he presently produced a rectangular cloth with a cow skin pattern on it and proceded to lay this down on the row of three seats, and kneel at the end of it. It was at this time that I figured I must have heard something wrong. First, there were no fresh vegetables to be seen. Nor was there any chopping board or knife. There was not going to be any salad made tonight.

Behtiyor’s salad making lasted about 15 minutes and included outstreched arms, some quiet chanting and lots of head to the ground bottom in the air movements. I was to learn later that this is a sarat, a five-times-daily prayer session that all devout Muslims take part in. According to Behtiyor, he thinks that maybe 98 percent of all Uyghur people are Muslim.

The last day of the train journey was the most interesting scenery-wise. I woke up to a moon-scape of stony desert with massive jagged rock mountain ranges in the distance that seemed to simply burst through the desert floor and up into the sky. From what I could see, there were no foothills to speak of. Just desert and mountain. I was filled with a desire to be out of the train and walking on the stony ground. In places the ground would become greener, and the sights though the window reminded me of the Canterbury plains in New Zealand with the Southern Alps in the distance.

Arrival in Urumqi was at 3:15pm, but for some reason it felt like noon. The sun was high in the sky, and I could feel my head burning in the direct sunlight. I asked Behtiyor about this and he explained that even though Urumqi is 3700km away from Beijng, it still officially uses Beijing time. The local unofficial time was indeed noon.

I was grateful again to have Behtiyor with me at the baggage claim counter to get my bike and two panniers that I had checked in at Beijing West Station. According to the woman at the window, the bike had not yet arrived in Urumqi and that I would have to wait until 7pm that evening to receive it. I explained that this could not possibly be the case, as one of the train conductors had asked me when I was on the train whether ‘that strange bike in the baggage carriage’ was mine. Also. I had the receipt for the VIP service I had paid for in order to have my bike removed from the train without delay. After Behtiyor explained this to the microphone in the window glass, we were told by the microphone above to wait for 15 minutes. We had barely sat down when the bike was wheeled out to were we sat. Apart from being very dusty, the bike was in good condition with no damage. I was once again glad to be reunited with it.

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第16日目 - 北京を出発(日本語要約)
August 9th, 2006 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, 中国


Get me out of this crazy city.

It took 30 minutes to bike from Bejing Station to Beijing West station today, but in that 30 minutes my face had collected enough black grime to make a serviet dirty when I wiped my face with it. Very dirty city is this Beijing.

Anyway, I will start from the beginning…

The day started with a 4:50am wake up. Then it was off to Beijing Station to wade through the crowds in order to try to get a train ticket to Urumqi. I was told that the only tickets left were for third class hard seats. At first I refused, and walked away to ponder any other options including flying to Urumqi. But in the end price won out. I paid the 375RMB for my non-reclining seat on the three day train ride. Flying would have cost me 2150RMB…

With my ticket in hand I headed back to the hotel where Mr. Lim was still sleeping. I presently hit the hay until 9am.

After loading the bike up, Mr. Lim and I headed out to make our way to Beijing West Station. Before going our separate ways (him by bus and me by bike), we had breakfast that included rice porrage and steamed buns. Very solid breakfast for only 8RMB for the two of us.

The plan was to meet Mr. Lim at Beijing West Station, however I think that both of us were not aware of the sheer scale of the place. There was no way I was going to find him in the masses of people. So I made my own way to the lugguage sending office. The procedure is fairly straight forward including simply filing in the freight sheet. It does help if you can understand some Chinese characters though. I would imagine however that anyone who did not know any Chinese at all would also get on OK. Very friendly bunch at the office. I paid an extra 30RMB (290RMB in total) to have the bike put on my train, rather than have the bike sent on a separate freight train that could possibly take up to five days to arrive at Urumqi.

Some observations while sitting here in the waiting room:
The Chinese people in this waiting room have a short wick. Toddlers don’t wear nappies. They wear pants with an open crotch. This means that when they squat down everything just hangs out…

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