Oh, had I only known about my friend Uncle Shen’s snoring habits before!
Last night the man fell asleep right away, and then he went at it like a gang of chainsaws in the virgin forest, making it virtually impossible for me to get any sleep at all. When I got up I felt like crap of course.
James didn’t know about all that when we ran into him though:
He was part of a group of bikers who were riding from Hong Kong to Ürümqi, and he told me he had been looking for me for about five days now, ever since a gang of Harley-Davidson bikers had told him about me. Harley-Davidson bikers?
Ha, seems like I’m famous in the desert now, am I awesome or what?
By the way, James was the only one in his group who cared to stop for a chat, all of the others just kind of rushed by without even seeming to notice me and Uncle Shen on the road. He told me there were even two Germans on his group – what’s with all the hurry, guys?
I took another shot of a nice little horsey for my sister:
This time it even had the snow-capped big ones in the background!
As you can see, it’s not totally arid out here, and sometimes there are even small water holes to refresh the thirsty eyes of a weary traveler:
People had been telling me about some terribly strong winds out here, and there were signs indicating the same thing all over the place, but fortunately it was all quiet today:
Then there was this snow-white dinosaur:
Uncle Shen told me they must have put it there to attract drivers’ attention and keep them from falling asleep on this long and boring road. Well, made sense to me in a way.
Then suddenly… an oasis:
It was so unexpected… and so beautiful…
There was a structure there that reminded me of the Great Wall towers I had seen in the province of Gansu (a hard pass, the dragon, the cry-train, if you can’t fight it – jump on it, sightseeing overkill, camel – filterless) before:
I went inside and looked around, and then I made a decision:
To me personally, regardless of what other people might say, this is also part of the big old dragon – the Great Wall!
There were no people around anywhere, but the farm animals really seemed quite friendly, so we had some fun with them for a while:
The sheep were nice…
…but the donkey was the biggest goofball!
When we arrived at the place, he came running in our direction and looked like he was ready to pick a fight or something. Then he just stopped right in front of us, blocking the way, not making a move. We all stood there for what seemed like a minute or so. Then he suddenly took off galloping and farting, and making that obnoxious eeh-aah! braying sound of his all the way.
When he got to the place where his friends the two horses had been quietly chewing on grass all the while, he just kind of crashed on the ground and made himself comfortable, ignoring us for the rest of the day:
What a goofball!
The rest of the way had some more white statues on the roadside…
…and a small herd of camels who were roaming freely about the place and seemed quite intrigued by us:
Maybe they thought my hairdo looked funny or something, who knows.
So far so good, the last bit of the way was bloody hell though:
You see the rise from 1350m to 1600m at the end?
Hauling the Caboose up there after almost 40km was just terrible, and it took me until way after sundown:
I had previously found out that there was a toll station and a gas station in that area, so I figured there had to be at least a restaurant and maybe a guesthouse up there too. That was basically my only motivation to climb up that terrible slope that night.
But when we finally got there, we had to realize that there was no place to stay at all.
I did my WTF-face, but luckily, Uncle Shen was able to sweet-talk some construction workers into letting us stay in their dormitory for the night:
I was a bit worried about security issues at first, but when I had stowed my cameras and notebook next to me on the top bunk, it actually felt quite cozy. I prepared myself for a good night’s sleep, and then the lights went off.
Then one of the guys started snoring.
Then one of the others joined him in unison.
Then Uncle Shen’s massive snoring sound towered above them all.
It was drilling into my ears. Shattering my brain. Killing all dreams and destroying all sleep.
I went through my bags and got my earphones out. Luckily I had some power left on my mobile. The screen flashed a dim blue light across the room as I scrolled through the list of songs… and there it was: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concertos 1 to 3, conducted by some dude called Pinchas Zukerman.
I turned up the volume and put it on loop. It was louder than the snoring sounds, but it sounded good.
Then the violins slowly took me away.