Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
Korla is a modern oasis town, which prospers thanks to its large oil reserves. The city is also known for its good pears, which have been cultivated for over 1300 years. Many beautiful parks and a riverside path along the Konque River invite you to stroll or linger. Otherwise there is not much to do or to visit. It has a large lake about 60km from the city, but according to the guide it is not necessarily worth a visit. So let's leave this one out! We'll see a lake or two anyway.
But we find a great restaurant near the hotel, where we once again order a delicious hot pot. We clean away everything we ordered, the food is so delicious! After leaving the restaurant we take a short digestive walk in the park. We haven't been on the road long, so we experience a brief moment of horror. Markus doesn't have his mobile anymore! He just left this in the restaurant. It's back in a hurry. The staff seems to be expecting us. Because as soon as they see us, they make a sign that they have our cell phone. Nothing beats the honesty of the Chinese. Relief is noticeable on both sides.
Back in the park we stroll a little and make it like the Chinese, we use the public fitness equipment. A little knitting and stretching, massaging back muscles - does it good!
In Korla you have to decide whether you want to drive north or south of the Taklamakan Desert. We have chosen the northern route in our planning, and we are sticking to it. We drive off and are amazed again and again the next 150km, how green it is along the road, it feels like a never-ending oasis. We don't notice much of desert. We pass several small villages with simple houses, small shops. The many flowerpots in front of the house give a personal touch. Often the stove with fireplace or the grill is in front of the house, a large sitting area, covered with carpets and cushions is partly occupied, but is mainly used during the midday heat or in the evening.
Only in Yuyungoaxing, after almost 100km the first and only control of the day takes place. At the beginning we are still calm, but it takes and lasts. One official does not feel comfortable with this situation. First he brings us cool water, then he comes along with wonderful watermelon carvings. After waiting for over an hour, I ask the official whether he was able to reach his superior or whether he has any other questions? That seems to be useful. Suddenly it goes forward, we get our passports back and can drive on.
Outside of the village we find a beautiful remote camping site. Only flaw, it's got mosquitoes and sand fleas or something similar. Kik offers help. Markus doesn't find it necessary to spray himself at first, he regrets that afterwards!
We use the morning freshness for the onward journey and unwind our kilometers. To our right the mountains rise, the peaks are covered with snow. It looks fantastic; steel-blue skies, white peaks, colorful cliffs, create avenues...On the way we buy fresh mirabelles, it's harvest time!
The only downside is the many controls (a total of 4) of the day. Even if the officials are friendly, once they even buy us a can of cold Nescafé, it is always tedious. In Luntai we are escorted to the hotel again with an escort vehicle, in the hotel itself there is another questioning of the police with an interpreter and we have to be instructed how we have to behave and what we are allowed to photograph or not to photograph. We are also asked where we camped, because camping is actually forbidden and contact with the local population should be avoided. I explain to them that we would like to stay overnight in the hotel, but that in my old age I cannot drive more than 100km a day. If there is no hotel nearby, we have no choice but to camp. They leave it like this!
The journey from Luntai to Kuqa is unspectacular. Most of us have to drive on the motorway, the weather is cloudy, there is sand in the air and now we have arrived in the desert. The trees and bushes become less, sand dominates the picture. After all - we have a strong tailwind and cover the more than 100km in just over 4 hours. Does this feel like riding an e-bike? Already in the early afternoon we reach Kuqa. Kuqa was once an important Buddhist stronghold, the city was also famous for its music and dancers.
In the evening we go for a stroll tohrough the old city of Kuqa. This part is characterized by the simple brice/mud hoe, where mainly the Uighurs live. The main street is very busy, many small snack bars offer barbecue skewers, and many bakeries spread the scent of fresh bread. Back at the hotel we watch a dance performance.
Today Sunday, 17.6. we wanted to visit the Sunday bazaar and then drive on. We'll change our plan in the short term. Outside it is pouring rain, the weather forecast has been confirmed. Let the sun shine again tomorrow.