During the expedition we will live to see a lot of adventures. Interested in how we live through this expedition and how we managed to succeed in our plans. Here you can read our daily adventures! Enjoy!
Mayhem on the road
We feel kinda sad leaving Dunhuang. Why...? Well, because it has a nice and cosy feeling to it but even more because of the everlasting impression the sanddunes and the Mogao caves made on us. We have to drive back to the main road, some 130 kilometres away via a bumpy road. On the way Jason spots some goat-antilope who majestically jump across the desert. Some 50 kilometres before the turn-off point towards Lanzhou, we come across a small sandstorm. Fortunately small as it sometimes lowers our view on the road. Not that its too difficult to drive.. it¡¯s basically straightforward here in China. But we don¡¯t know that things will change drastically within the hour. The weather turns and snow starts to fall. Not that much but we know the temperature is now below zero and parts of the road can freeze. The heatingsystem of the car is pushing its limits by this time as our car feels like the best/worst ventilated car on the planet. Smashing the door in India hasn¡¯t done much good either. Luckily we have good clothing and little by little we add some more. We don¡¯t wanna think how driving would have been without the heatingsystem!
We notice the sides of the roads are getting more and more covered by snow and ice. Trucks slow down and then we see the first victim. A car has plunged of the road and the owner looks a bit sad and very much frozen. Then we see a truck that skidded of the road and we know this is getting serious. We slow down and keep a steady pace in third gear. The road is completely frozen by now and a 10 centimeter thick layer of ice covers the road. Wind and trucks have rugged the ice making it even more difficult to drive. We are very much worried and concentrated by now. Suddenly the back wheel hits an icebump and the back of the car skids to the right. A very quick and decisive reaction of michel saves us and keeps us on the road. We all have pounding hearts and are quiet. Some parts of the road are also covered in a thick layer of snow. We are worried to get stuck as we don¡¯t have snowchains with us. Winter has come much much earlier then we expected! We crawl forward, sometimes swearing over the bad condition of the road and afraid of what could happen. A high wall of ice in between the tracks makes us worry about the bottom of the car but fortunately, due to its height, we only hit it once.
Fifty kilometres further the road is blocked by two collided trucks. Everybody drives of to the side terrain and we follow them. But here trucks are bogged in the loose sand and everybody is zigzagging making it difficult to choose a course. This is complete mayhem! We follow a fourwheel drive pickup trip and after some difficult driving and nearly bogging the car ourselves we make it across. Back on the road we drove on slowely for another 50 kilometres. Michel is cheering out loud when we finally hit the clean tarmac again. Jason is silent in the back and elles can¡¯t seem to appreciate mikes cheering.
Michel: i was just very anxious to get across. We had heard the road would be great all the way to beijing and after some maintainance we were almost sure we would make it to the capital. One thing you can¡¯t influence of prepare for is weather like this. It looked like driving through siberia, although we have never been there. The last bit is always the toughest they say... i guess this is going to count for us. But i was very much relieved to have made this part in one piece.
Elles: it was scary to say the least and my heart was still pounding when mike started to cheer. I just couldn¡¯t cheer with him.
Jason: I have seen better roads!
But mike laughs to early as another 25 kilometres down the road the tarmac is covered again with ice. This time we drive a bit slower and crawl further. Every kilometer we see a car or truck broken down. One man is making a fire underneath his dieseltank to melt the frozen diesel so he can try to start it again (don¡¯t try this at home). Trucks cover their fronts with cardboard to protect them from the cold. This is tough driving believe us. We are all very much silent and concentrated on the road and other cars, especially after we see a car in front of us skids of the road and ends up in ditch. We don¡¯t skid this time, pass a broken truck and make it to the clean tarmac! As we hit the better tarmac we see a car passing by at a very high speed. Wow, he is optimistic, Elles sais. We know he is about to crash. In the mirror we see him missing the broken truck by an inch and then skidding sideways crashing in a cloud of snow. That¡¯s all we see of him.. and hope the passengers and driver are alright!
We enter the city of Jiayuguan early in the evening and are all deadtired. The hotels don¡¯t seem to care to see 3 frozen deadtired travellers arriving. Two hotels don¡¯t even allow foreigners and the ones that do are three star hotels. Lucky us, It¡¯s low season but still the rooms costs us a lot. Outside the temperature has dropped well below zero. We have no idea what the next days will bring. We fear the worst!
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