14degrees off the beaten track
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May 6th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Today’s distance / ???????: 37 miles / 60km
Average speed / ????: 7.8mph / 12.6km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 4h 48m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4444mi plus 280mi (?) / 7152km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 340m
Descent / ??: 310m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N44° 20′ 14.50″, E085° 29′ 08.10″

Must stay positive. Must stay positive. It’s all in the mind…

When you travel the way I do, attention is guaranteed. In fact, as I write this (the day after this post), in the internet cafe, the police arrived to question me about my travels. To say it is frustrating would be an understatement….

Anyway…so I got away from the hotel in Kuitun 15 minutes before the checkout time, at 11:45am Beijing time. Here in Xinjiang, half of the population works on Beijing time, and half work on Xinjinag time (2 hours later than Beijing time).

Getting out of Kuitun was a mission in itself. After half an hour of skating around in circles, I stopped for lunch. “Do you have rice?” I asked the young girl at the road-side cafe/eatery.

“Yes, we do,” she replied.

30 minutes later the freshly cooked rice arrived.

With some firm directions from the cafe staff, I rolled out of Kuitun and back onto the expressway. Rolling at last. My trailer was heavy with water and food, as the Chinese road map that I have indicated no towns in between Kuitun and the next town, Shawan.

Before long I gave up on the expressway. Characterless and boring, on the expressway I am separated from the land by a traffic barrier, a concrete ditch, and a head-high barbed wire fence. Time to get off the expressway and onto more interesting roads.

I could see the secondary G312 road about 1km away to the south of the expressway, and soon enough I came to a place where locals had cut a hole in the barbed wire fence in order to cross the expressway. Too often the expressway cuts directly through communities, with very few access point over or under the highway. On many occassions I have seen people wandering across the highway.

I lugged my gear across the barriers and walked for 500m along a dirt path. The dirt gave way to pavement, and I pushed the remaining 500m to the G312 road.

The wind was still in my face as I pushed past derelict gas stations and old dwellings. A healthy dose of gradual uphill lasted for an hour before the land opened up to wide grasslands. Cattle, sheep and camels grazed in their separate herds.

A camel near Kuitun, Xinjiang Province, China

It was overcast, and the cold easterly wind cut into me. I took shelter in culverts under the road every half an hour to nibble on the delicious sugar coated peanuts I had bought in Kuitun.

I had made 50km before stopping for dinner. I stopped behind a small disused hut out of the wind, a sign nearby warning about something with severe punishments…

Warning against something near Kuitun, Xinjiang Province, China

Dinner was the extra rice I had ordered with my meal at lunchtime, along with some preserved vegetables in small packets. The first two packets contained some kind of white vegetable with way too much spicy hot spices. Had to chuck that lot out. The third packet was a winner. Lightly salted and peppered green vegetable of some description.

Smooth roads near Kuitun, Xinjiang Province, China

I carried on until just before dark, about 15km from Shawan, and manged to find a quiet spot to camp.

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    Permanent Link     Comments (4)

Comment by Chris J — May 8, 2008 @ 7:25 am | post a comment

I am sure enjoying these daily updates. Sometimes in the US it was a week or two before we knew what you had been up to.

Still always searching out the road less traveled I see…

Comment by Aunty Les — May 8, 2008 @ 2:55 pm | post a comment

It's kind of odd, when you think about it, that Communism is supposed to about the people for the people yet here is a great road going right across communities with no consideration for the people at all!

Comment by Markus — May 10, 2008 @ 11:02 pm | post a comment

Exciting to follow your trip. A pitty we can't skateboard together for a while. Just imagine if you put a trailer behind your trailer we could even go tandem and set another world record! What I'm really saying is, if I would get tired you would hopefully be kind enough and give me a lift. And if you would get tired you could simply kick me off the board and Marija could have a go and give you a lift. So just imagine the possibilities. Take care you powerful humans out there. Hope to see you in August, praying for your safe return.Markus

Comment by Rob Thomson — May 11, 2008 @ 11:00 pm | post a comment

Markus, your genius never ceases to amaze me. If only you had been there when I started thinking about this trip. I might have been finished by now! :-)

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