Day 732 – CHINA (GANSU) – QINGHAI DETOUR PART I: From Zhangye to Minlou

Today’s distance / ???????: 43.2 miles / 69.5km
Average speed / ????: 8.1mph / 13km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 20m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 5423mi plus 377mi (?) / 8728km plus 606km (?)
Ascent / ??: 820m
Descent / ??: 45m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N38° 26′ 05.00″, E100° 48′ 47.40″

“Just get out. Get out on the road.”

My mind was telling me that I was well rested after 20 days of no skating. My mind likes to tell me lies like that when it’s keen to get moving.

The reality was that I was unfit after 20 days of no skating. I was knackered after getting to Minlou.

Watermelons for sale on roadside near Zhangye, Gansu Province, China

My mind pushed me on however. Past the numerous watermelon stands lining China National Highway 227. Constantly uphill.

I knew that in the distance somewhere there was a 3,800m high pass that would take me to the capital of Qinghai Province, Xining. I was tired of the flat lands that I had endured across Xinjiang, and I wanted to add a decent high pass to my journey by skateboard. Every good long distance tour has a decent 3,000m plus high pass in there somewhere. I’ll be darned if I finish this trip without a decent pass under my belt.

Compared with a month ago in Gansu, wheat fields here are ready to be harvested.

Wheat ready for harvest near Minlou, Gansu Province, China

Harvesting here is done by machine, with the left overs stacked high.

Harvested wheat near Minluo, Gansu Province, China

It was hot today, despite the altitude. By the end of the day I was at over 2,000m. Despite this, I was in shorts and t-shirt.

A welcome diversion to the heat and uphill was a solar-cooker production yard. These simple but very effective devices are used to boil water.

Solar cookers being assembled near Minlou, Gansu Province, China

Solar cookers being assembled near Minlou, Gansu Province, China Solar cookers being assembled near Minlou, Gansu Province, China

The workers told me that they sell for between 150RMB and 200RMB (about 20 Euro) each. It takes five days to complete one, and they can produce 100 per month. With the abundance of strong sunlight here, these devices are in popular demand. No wonder, considering the cheap price. What a great alternative energy source.

Solar cookers being assembled near Minlou, Gansu Province, China

One of the workers took me inside a compound where they kept the completed solar devices. I rummaged inside my pocket for a piece of paper to test the heat output.

“Hang on a minute,” the worker said.

He went behind a building and came back a moment later with a large piece of cardboard. He laid it atop the protruding ring in the middle of one of the mirrors, and adjusted the angle of the mirror.

Within a few seconds, the intensely directed light on the cardboard was causing the cardboard to smoke. Within a minute, a dark black hole had been burned in the center of the cardboard. It was impossible to keep one’s hand in the focal point of the light for more than a second. Such intense heat.

Solar cookers being assembled near Minlou, Gansu Province, China

“Have some watermelon with us!” the worker said.

The other two workers had come to watch, and we all went inside their kitchen and quickly devoured a sweet watermelon. As usual, I was forced to each much more than I could handle…but when it comes to watermelon, I’m not complaining. And yes, I am sunburnt.

The solar cooker assembly team near Minlou, Gansu Province, China

After the refreshing watermelon, I made my way on again towards Minlou. Ever gradual uphill.

Hothouse sheds near Zhangye, Gansu Province, China

In Hong Kong I bought some new shoes. Concerned that the summer heat would be unbearable in my thick padded skate shoes, I have changed to sandal-like shoes by shoe company Keen.

Keen sandals keeping my feet cool near Minlou, Gansu Province, China

I much prefer these to the skateshoes. They are more comfortable, and the breeze across my feet is a welcome change!

I arrived in the small town of Minlou at around 7pm. I checked into a cheap hotel (4 Euro) and enjoyed the cool air through my open window. The altitude here is about 2,300m, so the night air is much cooler than in Zhangye.

Minlou, Gansu Province, China

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3 thoughts on “Day 732 – CHINA (GANSU) – QINGHAI DETOUR PART I: From Zhangye to Minlou

  • Stephanie C

    Hi Rob, great photos as always enjoyable. Unlike most of the actual slog of the journey I guess. A couple of ones you could also take would be one of your head next to a half watermelon, (as they look quite similar), and what your burnt feet look like without the sandals on.

    All the best with the rest up hill, god bless