When I stepped out into the morning, the first thing I noticed was a flat tyre on the Caboose. I messed around with it for a while, trying not to feel bothered by the bystanders.
“Look, it’s broken,” they would say to each other.
“He’s trying to fix it.”
Yeah well, it didn’t help.
I ended up taking the Caboose to a dude who knew more about this kind of thing than me:
He found the evildoer and placed it in my hand:
Curse on you, tiny metal element!
I left Regiment 66 on a back road that passed some of the older parts of the settlement…
…and ended up wandering through some very quiet places:
It was nice. It almost seemed like it was just the Caboose and me, the road below us, and the wind in the trees:
…eventually I was back on the main road though.
It led through tiny Uyghur villages…
…and past vast expanses of corn:
It seemed like everywhere there was just corn and corn and more corn:
And after that, some more corn:
I was still looking at corn when I reached the outskirts of the city of Yining:
If you take a look at the Google Earth file or at the map on this site, you will probably wonder what made me take such a large detour to get to this place.
Well, I had heard all kinds of good things about Yining, and about the area of Ili 伊犁 in general. Come to think of it, the things I had heard were not so much about any particular details, more about a notion of this place being very “good” in general.
So I felt like I had to go there.
I walked past a statue of the flying horse that I had seen many times before:
I passed large intersections:
And I walked along buildings and buildings for a long time:
But none of the hotels would have me.
It was the same problem as in Jinghe – I was a foreign element and only allowed to stay in special hotels. Though what it was that made them special, I would never know.
This one, imposing as it might look, would not let me stay:
The people at the reception desk told me to go to this other place nearby.
It was a four-star hotel and cost about 700RMB a night. I didn’t like it. Also, it was in this street:
Motherfucking Stalin street.
I didn’t want to stay there.
Luckily, there’s this number you can call in China to help you sort out transportation, food and accommodation. So I punched “114” into my phone and told the person on the other end of the line about my troubles.
Twenty minutes later I was in a nice hotel that didn’t cost half as much as the Stalin place.
I figured it was time to celebrate with a burger:
And – knowing that it was only a few hours until I would meet a very good friend – celebrate I did!