China 5 - Sichuan and Shaanxi

 

We reported, we escaped the freezing cold region by train... and arrived in drizzle, fog and smog... Around lunchtime the sun starts shining through the clouds and now we are sure our decision was good. Our next destination is close: The Maijishan Grottoes. Impressive and in dizzying heights lots of small and large Buddha statues have been carved into the rock. A path leads along the smooth, vertical face of the rock, challenging as we both suffer from fear of heights

 

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China 4 - Winter in Gansu Province

 

Every day the same routine… Read how we got here. We pedal the same ascent for the second time, healthy it feels less steep though. Unfortunately the weather changed in the meantime: It is even more freezing now. At 2500 m altitude we reach the snowline, at 3000 m the road becomes ice, as smooth as a mirror. The road is full of ice and queued trucks, only few vehicles drive downhill, with snow chains. We test the way, sliding is fun – but not for more than 100 kilometers. What should we do now? Sun will set soon and it is getting colder and colder. Back is the only option. 1000 meters downhill to the wrong direction and no idea how to go on. Usually we look forward to riding downhill, now we would prefer climbing to keep warm. So we put on literally all our cloth, not enough at 30 km/h! Plus the idea to set up camp and sleep outdoor makes us shiver. The hotel where Moni cured her cold and form where we started in the morning comes to our minds. Ironically we could hardly wait to leave, now we long for being back.

 

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China 3 - Untypical Gansu – Terracotta Army, Forbidden City and Golden German Autumn

 

Tailwind supports us on our last kilometers in Xinjiang province, which is necessary because we have to climb another 1000 meters. Incredible how we got used to this up and down. The temperature drops roughly 1°C per 100m, additionally the difference between day and night temperatures is about 25°C here in the desert. Why are we telling you this? We started the last climb in shorts and shirts and arrive during sunset at the summit, where the last police checkpoint is located. The policemen who stop us already wear gloves, hats and scarfs – and seem rather shocked because of our summer outfits… Funny! Having passed the last checkpoint we change to winter clothes – but only once we are out of sight ;)

 

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China 2 - Xinjiang 2 -Highway, Sand, Wind...

 

In the middle of the night we have to take down our tent. If you don’t know yet how we got here, read our last blog article. Everything we don’t grab or fix somehow, gets blown away. The heavy things simply roll in the direction of the wind, the light ones fly away. So we pack up everything inside the tent and immediately attach it to the bikes. The most exciting task is to pack the tent, it blows like a sail. 12 arms would have been great, but somehow we manage with four. What now? More or less sheltered we lay down next to a little pump house. Every gust throws new sand onto us. We do not think we will find sleep.

 

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China 1 – Xinjiang 1 – Communism with Porsche

 

Early in the morning we roll towards the border again and hope that today we are allowed to pass. The evening before we were stopped by the Kazakh border officials because the Chinese closed the border (read here). Thus we had the opportunity for a night in a hotel and a shower – but not a single penny left. Therefore we plan to finish the border controls and find a restaurant before lunchtime – and an ATM before of course. We are not the first to arrive at the border, a long queue of trucks is already waiting. Luckily again we are allowed to overtake them, the gate is opened for us and we roll towards China. Our hearts start to beat faster…

 

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