Counter: 2397 kms
Counter: 2397 kms
(Second and last night at Tash and Andrea's place! Thank you so much for your hospitality and for the nice talks ;))
Ürümqi was a pleasant surprise.
Not for the city in itself, but for its interesting mix of population. There are Uighurs, Hans, Kazakhs, Mongols, Kyrgyzs, Uzbeks, Russians, Tatars, Xibes, Tadjiks, Huis... The richness of faces and skin colours is incredible! They all live together, for the worst and for the best. The worst: inter-ethnic violence explode sometimes. The best: love is stronger than all, and mixed couples are not that uncommon ;)
Streets are full of life, colours, food odors... Everything is continually in movement: shoemakers replace street barbecue stands, who replaced fruits vendors, who came just after the early fish and meat market...
There is excellent food everywhere, at anytime. Han here, Uighur there, Kazakh over there... Each more delicious than the others. After one month of cycling, the five senses are fully awoken, and appetite knows no limits. No need to say that I enjoy it. And I don't talk about all the fruits orgies: mangoes, oranges, bananas, kiwis, papayas...
I got the visa for Kazakhstan this afternoon. It means that I'll take the road to the mountains tomorrow morning. But before, I'll have to say goodbye forever to some lovely people.
I eat breakfast in a small Uighur stand, where naans and vegetables are incredible; everyday a nice and welcoming smile from the backer, whose hot bread smells and tastes like a perfect beginning of day. The girl of the fruits store at the corner welcomes me everyday with a huge smile; she has already prepared a Mango - perfect to eat right off - and some new words of Chinese, and we practice together. And what about the old woman of the biscuits store: I don't have to say anything, she already knows that I'll take a full bag of her sesame tiles and try two or three other sorts of biscuits...
Hard to say goodbye... Mais c'est la vie!
The coming 800 kms before the border are going to be really nice, I heard. The road goes south through the mountains, and then heads west to Yining, between two mountains ranges! It has three passes, a lot of rivers and surely many lovely places to put the tent!
The first pass, the highest, is about 3500 m higher than the couch where I'm lying now (Ürümqi is about 800 m above sea level). I'm trying to imagine how much it is to climb 3500 m in a row, but no, no idea... I only know, that I'll have 120 kms to understand it ;
|A Chinese group making exercises. People's square.|
|How many flying shuttlecocks do you see?|