14degrees off the beaten track
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May 8th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China

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Today’s distance / ???????: 58 miles / 94km
Average speed / ????: 8.4mph / 13.6km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 6h 56m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4550mi plus 280mi (?) / 7322km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 265m
Descent / ??: 180m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N43° 57′ 06.20″, E087° 24′ 22.60″

Mammoth day. Once again the roller coaster of emotions was at full speed…

Sleep spot near Shiheizi City, Xinjiang Province, China

I pushed away from my campspot amongst the trees into the same headwind that had been blowing for the last three days. Once again the indigestion began early. I stopped regularly to appease the fire in my chest. Snapped this little fella working hard on the side of the road…

Mighty ant near Kuitun, Xinjiang Province, China

A week ago in Jinghe City, I had enquired whether I could extend my visa. The answer was that it was too early. So today I decided that I would have a go at it at a small police station in Hotopi District.

I stopped in at the small police station, and explained what I was doing, and explained that I needed an extra 30 days on my visa. At this stage I still had 7 days to go, but with the weekend coming up, I didn’t want to leave it too late.

The answer was that it would be no problem to extend the visa. Simple as that. Woohoo.

An hour later, at about 11am, three police officers arrive at the small police station. They were from Hotopi City, about 25km away. After a quick chat, they told me I had to come to the city to extend the visa.

“We will give you a ride,” they offered.

I explained that I chose not to take rides, in the spirit of completing every single km on the skateboard. They are confused, but seem to accept it as a strange foreigner thing.

I skate the remaining 25km into the headwind to the city over about 2.5 hours. I am shattered, but figure I will stay a night in Hotopi City while the visa is being extended.

I arrive at the main police station too early. The time is 12:45pm. The official lunch break is from 12 noon till 2pm. No worries…I need a break anyway.

1:45pm, the kind-of-English speaking police officer arrives back at the police station with English grammar book in hand.

“I am sorry,” she begins. “But you cannot extend your visa in China.”

She checked with her superior in Changji City, 70km away, and the official word was that in this general region, the Changji region of the Xinjiang Province, you cannot extend your visa without an invitation letter from an organisation in China.

This did not go down well with me. To be led to expect one thing, and then told another…this did not go down with tired, sweaty, frustrated Rob. I stormed out firmly stating that this has all been a waste of my time.

Poor police officer. She was just trying to help. Foreigner became angry. Oh dear…

So thus began the mission to get to Urumqi by tomorrow morning. It was 3pm by the time I got out of the police station and on the road. I stopped for rice for a late lunch, and with the big bowl of rice burning well in my stomach, the wonderful carbs fuelling my muscles, I began the push. I was at 45km by this stage, and I was hell-bent on getting as many kms in as possible by sun-down. The earlier I can get to Urumqi, the better, I figured. If I can’t extend my visa in Urumqi, then I will have to get a train to a more foreigner-friendly province pronto.

Overloaded near Chengji City, Xinjiang Province, China

Later in the afternoon, the wind died. Neccessity took over, and I was flying. Screaming through the dirty, dusty city of Changji. Carving my way out onto the smooth side road that run parallel to G312 highway between Urumqi and Changji.

By the time the sun was dropping below the horizon behind me, I was spent. I had felt a small blister forming on my heel during the day, but stupidly I ignored it until too late. I changed my socks but it was still sore. With 20km and a 500m climb to go to Urumqi, I stopped and laid myself out under a tree about 100m from the road for the night. It is going to be an early start tomorrow morning.

Tired, sweaty, dirty, ready for a rest near Urumqi, Xinjiang Province, China

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