Tuesday, June 30, 2009

To Zhongwei

We went to the Art Museum, which turned out to be a gallery also where we browsed though the different works of art by Chinese artists.

We then went on our way to Zhongwei stopping at check points along the way. We also passed several toll gates. At some places you pay for motorcycles and at some you don't, so when we were waiting in line at one of the toll gates, the lady opened the gate to let us pass since there was no toll for motorcycles. Husain and I passed while the bar lowered while Ali was passing, and it hit the motorcycle and broke. Ali was OK, and the bike had a minor scratch.

We passed many villages, and farm land on the way, and noticed mud rooms build near the fields, we later found out that those were temporary housing for the farmers to rest in the afternoon.

While I was updating the blog, Husain and Ali took a walk in town and took some great photos and a video of Chinese "Dameh".

Monday, June 29, 2009

Easy does it to Lanzhou

Since we rode 740 km yesterday we only had 220 km today to Lanzhou so we rested in the morning, and had to amend our plans since we found out that the shipping of our motorcycles to Anchorage will take longer than usual.The reasons as described to me are many, the fist is that it takes 4 days for the officials in Beijing to inspect the bikes before they are shipped, and the second is that the closest flight available will be on the 15th of July.So we decided to go to LA and rent bikes to ride to San Francisco, and then fly to anchorage pick up our bikes and cross the US right after Seattle.

Today was the first time we were faced with what we knew before we left "No motorcycles on the express ways" so we had to take a side national highway which is much slower.

On our way to Lanzhou we finally used the Gasoline stove I bough to heat up Shabzi for lunch on the side of the road. Ali was not convinced of the stove until he saw it in action.

After we reached the hotel we walked around and found an Art museum which was closed, so we asked our guide to take us there tomorrow morning.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nice long roads

When we left this morning we didn’t know what to expect since the roads were very difficult the last two days. Husain was well enough to ride today, and we were targeting Caka. However our guide mentioned that if we were up to it Xining was a city with better hotels.We started with strait desert roads that resembled those we rode in Saudi Arabia, going 120 km/h was easy, and we managed to cover a lot of road in a short time.

Then the desert changed with more vegetation, and small bushes. Followed by some farms and then desert again. We passed through some construction but not many, and finally arrived at around 4 pm at Caka. We stopped prayed, and got something to eat. Then we informed our guide that we would be able to go to Xining which was another 300 km.

The scenery started to change form desert to green pastures, and farm land, and we were riding along side Qinghai Lake, then it started to get cold and when we were about 50 km form Xining we entered nice highway with green hills.Ten minutes later it started to rain cleaning the bikes from the mud we gathered from the past two days, and didn't stop even after we reached the hotel.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day of the Off Road

After having a Chinese breakfast with the soldiers we packed our bikes and went on our way, Husain was still not feeling any better so our guide rode his bike for the second day.

We knew we had more than 500 km to do today all the way to Golmud and saying goodbye to the Tibetan plateau. Again we were faced with many diversions of off-road riding due to construction, and at one time in the middle of an army convoy with slow trucks breathing their diesel fumes.

The last diversion was a difficult 8 km sand and mud track with stuck trucks and fast cars all over the place. Once we finished our selves and our bikes were full of dirt and sand.

We finally made it to Golmud by late afternoon, and rested for another expected long day tomorrow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

High Hail

We woke up early only to find Husain still sick, fortunately one of our guides can ride a motorcycle, and Husain is well enough to ride in the car. We knew that the next three days we would need to cover a lot of mileage.

Our target was Wenquan over 400 km with known construction on the way. For the first 220 km it was a normal road until Nagqu where we fill up with fuel manually again and had lunch, we then followed the road to Amdo where we found many trucks parked waiting for the road to open, however they did let the motorcycles through.

So we rode until we reached where they were laying asphalt. We parked the bikes on narrow shoulder and waited until we were allowed to ride on the newly laid asphalt.

We then passed Amdo and went through a series broken roads due to construction which was the same as riding off road on gravel or at times on a rocky surface.

We past Wenquan and decided to continue since there was daylight left , we stopped briefly for prayers at 5000 meters above sea level and continued on at high altitude going through a pass above 5200 meters.

Once we were descending it started to rain lightly, then heavily, then it hailed stinging us with small pellets when we opened the visor to clear the condensation, all this while managing bad roads with potholes.

We barely reached Toutou Heyan before it got really dark, and while our guide was asking about accommodations in this really small town, a soldier came up and talked to Ali first who then directed him to our guide, the next thing we know is that we were staying at the nearby army barracks, which was cleaner and safer than any hotel in the area courtesy of the red army.