On the advice of other cyclists, recent and not-so, we decided to save 30 days of our lives from the endless boredom, sandstorms and dry days of crossing the Taklamakan desert. Instead, we have taken an entertaining three day train to Lanzhou and will begin a less direct and more scenic route from there, hopefully taking in some of the sights of Tibet along the way!
The train ride provided us with many many hours of dull countryside , interspersed by the odd metropolis where the cargo would jump off, buy some pot noodles, and hop back on. Pot noodles in China, however, are nicer than the ones we know and as such seem to form a huge part of all our carriage mates’ diets.
Our journey was fortunately improved by meeting Sun, a Chinese girl travelling across China with her mother and grandmother, who spoke very good English and could explain the oddities of the Chinese behaviour on show. They introduced us to Tibetan milk tea, with lots of sugar: we loved it!
Alex, having had his knife confiscated in Lanzhou (distracting the police’s attention from mine simultaneously), was again unlucky when our bike lube was taken hostage for reasons of flammability. Lighter fuel and deodorants are allowed… Sun explained it was ‘policy’.
I spent a lot of the journey deciphering different chinese accents and learning a bit when I could get them to write into my dictionary, while Alex’s vocab list is also growing!
We arrived in Lanzhou at around 10PM, with my stomach fixed and a cheap room found at £3.40 each with hot shower leaving us just one place to go to: the night market! Now interspersed with Hui food, the Uyghur and Han cuisines on show in the streets were great. The East Asian addition of pork was welcomed, though there only seemed to be fat… A great boiled milk egg sugar drink was our favourite for today!
Just like night follows day, my stomach revolted once again. Such unpleasant experiences as cannot be written on a blog kept me localised to the loo, while Alex bought a new helmet and some bike stuff. I chowed some medicine and hoped I would be ok to leave in the morning, we had some China to cycle!