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Aksu - Kashgar

 

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

 

In Aksu we have a rest day before the next and last major stage of the Taklamakan Desert. There is not much to see in this modern city, it is not even mentioned in the travel guides. But we can stock up with provisions and buy fresh fruits, vegetables and bread for the next few days. A short stroll through the local market is always worthwhile. Here, fresh - i.e. live - poultry is offered above all: Pigeons, chickens, other birds. Fresh fish from the aquarium is a must. 

 

After dinner in the hotel (Markus treats himself to 4 steaks) including a delicious nut cake - let's take a digestive walk. Public viewing is also current here - before the start of the football game 2 men play music, there are food stands, the fish is already on the grill... spectators definitely do not have as many as with us! However, the quality of the transmission leaves much to be desired. It would be possible to watch the matches in one of the many venues, but this time the World Cup definitely passes us both. We are currently living in another world!

 

The waiter, who is responsible for us at breakfast, will remain in our best memory. He comes up to us, is really overwhelmed and asks if he can take a picture with us! We're the first foreigners he's ever seen! 

 

Strengthened we start next 460km. We leave the city with a beautiful view of the snow mountains. We cycle ahead of us, to our right the mountain range of the Tianshan Mountains rises, sometimes a little closer, sometimes a little further away. The railway and motorway run in parallel, sometimes a little closer, sometimes a little further away. There's relatively little traffic on the G314, we really appreciate that. The wind and the weather are good for us. Only on one day we have to fight headwinds, the temperatures are not too hot yet, from time to time the sky is overcast, which we even appreciate. 

 

For the lunch break we have found the ideal places in the shade: concreted and dry drains, which the water that comes from the mountains runs under the roads. We look like Clochards laying under a bridge! But it is good to rest in the shade, feel a breath of fresh air and take a nap.

 

Otherwise there is hardly any shady place. How could I, in the middle of the desert!

 

Whenever we pass through a village, which is not often the case, we buy water. This is our top priority! In second place on the shopping list is wine and then bread and melons. Everything else we have already bought. After all, we should not lack anything when camping.

 

Only after we have reached our daily workload (at least 100km), we look around for a suitable camping site. We are doing well. Only on the 2nd evening we are a little careless and don't take a close look at the ground with the result that we both catch a record. Those little thorns are tough. But Markus is used to pumping: remove thorns, pump and move the wheel and everything is patched up again! Thank God we have no hoses, we would have had to patch the hose several times!

 

We enjoy three evenings under the open sky with a cup of wine, the peace, the beautiful view of the mountains, the beautiful sunsets. Wonderful! Unfortunately, the silence does not last all night. As soon as it begins to dawn, which is only the case after 10 p.m., truck traffic also increases. All right, it's over! These trucks and trains thunder past at some distance until late into the night, the sound is only too good to hear. We're still trying to get some sleep. Unfortunately, I also caught a small hole in my air mattress. To find out where this is, I would need a lake or a bathtub which are not just there. So I have no choice but to fill the mattress with some air during the night until we are back in a hotel to find the hole and mend it! 

 

The 400km to Artux are a bit monotonous, sometimes interrupted by beautiful rock formations and colours. Finally, after 4 days Artux is in sight: here a hotel is waiting for us! We are pleasantly early, I already dream of the warm shower. But I didn't take the host into account. The entry and exit is time consuming, in total we need almost 5h. We pass the first checkpoint as usual. All 1 ½ h let us wait, just like that. All the officers deliberately look away when we are looking for eye contact, after all we could ask something. Then they even move into an office, everyone's gone. Finally, the boss who had taken our passports reappears, makes the sign for timeout and disappears with the car. We sit there, speechless and don't know what will happen next. After a few minutes one of the policemen comes and hands over the passports! We're good to go. We are still not half an hour on the way, there already appears the next checkpoint. After all, here the control does not take quite so long, only about 1h. Even if we point out that we have only just been checked, it does not help. Finally we are taken back to a hotel, cycling behind the police car, through half the city. We'll make it to the hot shower sometime.

 

To Kashgar there are still approx. 50km, a cardboard stick for us. We start cycling comfortably, want to leave Artux behind us. We're just making one little mistake. On our way out we ask a policeman for the way and washed - and again we have to pull out our passports! So much for "the police - your friend and helper"!

 

We won't let the day go by. In the afternoon we start the last climb before Kashgar - the picture that opens up in front of us - the 7000m peaks of the Pamir Mountains! Breathtaking. We pass the kilometre-long column of trucks, are waved through at the checkpoint and finally reach our destination - Kashgar! After 15'000km I realized my dream together with Markus! It's a wonderful indescribable feeling!

 

Kashgar invites you to stay: it is a city with oriental charm, tea houses, night market. Just gorgeous. Here we rest for a few days before we take the Pamirhighway under the wheels. Our journey continues.....

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