lucky bastard

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Most people in Shuiquanzi are farmers that try to profit from their fields as well as from the highway:

new highway

This morning, one family called me over to have their picture taken:

family photo

“You’re a photographer” they said (word had gone around rather quickly), “please take a picture of us, will you?”

Of course, the pleasure was absolutely mine:


When I finally ventured out into the Great Unknown a bit later, there was something I immediately noticed in all that brownness:

Great Wall ruins

Another stretch of the Western Great Wall! (a hard pass)

I walked around on it for a little bit.

stump of the Wall


Besides this, there were some weird cone-shaped things standing around in random patterns:

weird cones

I think they must have been some kind of markers for burial sites. There were no other signs or written indications whatsoever though, so I have no idea whether these were rather new or rather old:


There weren’t any people to ask around, either.

Actually, there was almost nobody the whole day – no restaurant, no gas station, not even a little shop:


So I rationed my water and tried to keep a steady pace that would hopefully enable me to make it to my destination before nightfall.

As you can see I reached an altitude of over 2500m in the early afternoon, which made walking actually a bit easier, just because it didn’t seem to be so damn hot up there:

walking day in the Eastern Gobi

Once I realized I had come to the highest point, I took my shoes off, massaged my hurting feet for a while and then stretched out for a long break.

Here’s the outcome of that break:


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It’s called “clouds.”

…and that’s when my streak of luck began.

First, I ran into this motorcycle gang:

These bikers gave me some water and some ice tea on a tough day

“You need something to drink?” they asked me right after we had exchanged greetings.

Of course I said no. I didn’t need anything – not me, not the-longest-beard-Chris!

Well, I guess these kind people could totally tell that I was a fraud, so they just ignored whatever I said, and two minutes later I had two fresh bottles of the finest sweet jasmine tea stuffed into the side pockets of my back pack.

It was so nice suddenly not to have to worry about this problem anymore…

The other issue was about food – sure, there were these stands selling wild mushrooms everywhere:

mushroom stand

But those mushrooms were dried. How could I eat them?

I had to find a restaurant.

Once, just once, there was a building that had a large sign on top and some vehicles parked outside, just like a real restaurant:

mushroom shop

…but then it turned out to be a shop specializing in wild mushrooms.


Doesn’t sound like a good-luck streak to you?

Well, I was about to find out, because this is what turned up in the western sky just a bit later:


I could hear the heavy thunder rolling in my back when I was still about 40 minutes away from my destination, but somehow luckily I managed to stay ahead of the thing all the way until I was there:


I got a room in a tiny motel, dropped off my stuff and ran across the street to a small restaurant.

“Wild mushrooms!” I yelled, and wild mushrooms I got:

mushroom dish

The most tasty wild mushrooms in the universe.

Then the rain started, just as I got back to my room:


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And it never stopped coming down.

Lucky me.

  • Steven

    Fantastic video of the cloud!
    You really need a bit more planning before start walking in the morning around the desert area. No joking, Man!


  • Hermann

    Glück? As it was supposed to happen, sagt mein Lieblingsschreiben Kurt Vonngeut Jr., Gott hab ihn selig….


  • joerg

    mmh, wild mushrooms,
    lucky sipf, a roof above your head and wild mushrooms.

    yummy, yummy


  • Florian

    Hm, also die Getränke- und Versorgungssituation würde ich auch anders machen. Warum bist Du denn immer so abhängig von Restaurants? Für Nahrung und Getränke muss Platz sein im Rucksack – das ist doch das essentielle! Nagut, immerhin war das mal wieder eine echt nette Geschichte, und die Bilder sprechen für sich ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Martin T.

    Was für ein Tag! Was für Begegnungen! Wenn schon keine Menschen-Seele (vor der Motorrad-Gang), dann aber doch jede Menge Wolken-Seelen – noch rein&weiß. Und all das an einem Freitag, einem 13ten, der doch angeblich….


  • Wang Qin

    Hi there, nice pictures and videos. It is getting HOT, be sure to have enough water carried. The situation here in Xinjiang is even worse, large stretches of unhabited desert, often over 100km. July and August are the hottest months, take care.


  • uncle

    Hallo Christoph!

    Habe schon lange nicht mehr geguckt, aber heute mir allet reingezogen. Deine Fotos werden mmer besser.

    Ich habe am Dienstag ein Interview bei der krassestet kanzlei

    dasklappt aber betimmte icht, das kann einfach nicht sein, das waere viel zu krass aej

    aber dann habe ich noch ein interview bei dieser kanzlei


    dit is immerhin was. besser wie in die bux scheissen

    die woche war ein typ in der u bahn, der trug gips, aber die fuesse konnte man sehen. war alles ueberhaopt nicht durchblutet und die fuesse waren von einem hammerhartyen pilz befalllen. man fragte sich wie die beine ueberhaupt am koerperbeiben unter diesen bedingungen,

    ich persoenlich haette wahrscheinlich eine abtrennung befuertwortet. jedenfalls musste ich an deine fuesse denken. sind die noch daran? alles in ordnung?

    naja du machst da schon.




  • John

    Perhaps those cone-shaped markers are landmarks, meant to help travelers navigate. they could be very old, before the roads were built. i have seen similar things in the sahara in algeria. you could ask someone, though, yes?

    be careful in the desert. it is a new experience for you, but not something to be taken lightly. drink more than you normally would, and always pack some food.
    just because it may 'feel' cooler, it is still very dry, and you will become dehydrated much faster.


  • Will

    Hey, I was going to warn you but Wang Qin beat me to it. 150km before Jiuquan there is a stretch of desert about 100km long, then 150km after Jiayuguan, there are long 100+ km stretches all the way to Wulumuqi. I guess if you get into serious trouble you can always hitchhike. I like your blog, here's mine


  • Becci

    @ uncle: wünsch dir viel glück, das läuft schon! du putzt die mit deinem charme einfach wech! ๐Ÿ™‚ nur nich unterkriegen lassen!


  • Becci

    ach und @ chris: nimm gefälligst genug zu trinken mit, du fleife! ๐Ÿ˜‰


  • Lilu

    Da kann ich mich Becci nur anschließen.


  • Marten

    Hallo Christoph,

    I often look in awe at the sky. Sometimes I grab my camera and try to capture the beauty of the sky, but untill now I haven't been really succesful. That's why I especially admire your pictures of the clouds. Is there any trick in taking pictures of clouds?

    Gr. Marten


  • Christoph

    Steven: I know, I know, please don't worry, we'll figure something out!
    Hermann: Ah so?
    joerg: jealous?
    Florian: Hehe, ma gucken, ma gucken…
    Martin T.: Ah, daran hatte ich gar nicht gedacht!
    Wang Qin: Hey dude, thanks for watching out for me there! Good luck to you too, may your bicycle carry you safely to every place you want to go!
    uncle: Dienstag, das ist ja schon bald – da wünsche ich dir viel Glück, das schaffst du schon! ๐Ÿ™‚ Füße sind okay, tun nur weh, das ist alles.
    John: Yeah, I'll ask someone about the cones. And about the water: please don't worry, we'll figure something out in the near future, maybe I'll get a little trolley that I can pull around for extra capacity.
    Will: Hey my fellow foreigner! Thanks to you too for watching out for me! …and I read your blog, very interesting – and I think you write very well! Hope things are going well with your visa applications, may your bike never break down again!
    Becci: Mit dem Onkel hast du recht, und mit dem Wasser auch! …aber mit der Fleife? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Lilu: Ich Fleife was?
    Marten: Hey there, Marten! Well, there's basically one thing: you'll need a polarizer – that's a filter that can make the sky darker and the clouds whiter, just what we need if we want to take pictures that look strong and majestic! I think that today in the digital age, the polarizer is the only filter that is really needed.


  • claudia

    absolut überwältigende fotos! und diese netten jasmintee-leute – manchmal gibts einfach engeln, die fahren motorrad, oder? ๐Ÿ˜‰


  • ataraxia

    i want to eat that!


  • Doris

    the part where you yelled “wild mushrooms” was so funny! loved it!


  • ็Ž‹็Žฎ

    I believe thatโ€™s some seriously good luck. Rain in that area isnโ€™t a common thing not alone a bucketing one.


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