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Current Location : Dharamsala, India (Google map)
Last entry date : 26 June 2008

At the top of the world for a bike – Khunjerab Pass, 4700 mtrs above sea level
03/Jun/08 to 10/Jun/08

The 2nd day on route 218 was by far the most difficult single journey long ride since I started this trip. My China map is now showing the Silkroad along the northern edge of the Taklamakan desert which passes through the cities of Korla, Kuqe to Kashgar. That’s where I wanted to go and it cannot be a dirt road across the hot desert for the next 1200km. After route 218, I was motivated and started to toy with the idea that I can arrive in Kashgar (my exit point from China) in 2 days. Besides, its no joy getting cooked alive out in the desert and what’s annoying is that the bike’s synthetic seat material actually gets too hot to be seated on after a while – a real discomfort.

I left Balantay on 03/Jun/08 after a hefty dumpling breakfast in company of Chinese men slurping away their morning porridge. It was a hot day. The road was generally very good and I remember it was hottest at 2 points : when slowing down in towns to observe the strict speed limits and when out in the middle of the desert. The horizon is a thick white background when it gets hot out in the desert. The police did not stop me and I did not stop for lunch (new trick I learned), only for petrol and drinks. There were a couple occasions where the desert winds were blowing too strongly and I had to stop at petrol stations for it to subside. Apart from that, I made the 450km to Kuqe and 750km the next day to Kashgar, where I played tourist and chilled out for the next 6 days.

Bike wise, Kuda was performing well. The air filter was clogged by fine sands and a 5cm diameter rubber section was ripped away from the rear tyre. How that came about is a mystery. It was no problem to find a Chinese mechanic to do a general service including engine oil and tyre change. In China everything is possible, so they say, and it helps when you carry a bit more cash. From now on, no more photos of the bike with those 2 silly heavy tyres I carried since Istanbul !!

It was a beautiful day as I made my way out of Kashgar towards the border town of Tashkorgan on 09/Jun/08, some 300km away. The Himalayas was soon in sight. I prefer this scenery of high mountains with its curvy roads than the plain desert environment with its straight roads. To my surprise, out here in the middle of nowhere beneath a road signboard, I met a busload of Malaysians on holidays snapping their souvenir photos away. They were not lost … and it was indeed a pleasant surprise.

The next day, at the very last minute, one customs dept would not allow my bike to exit from China until I find a truck that will carry it 130km up till the Pakistan border. “Its for your safety” he said. My agent who was present was not aware of this rule. I had used up my visa for China and could technically not re-enter China. But luck was on my side as there was a once a day busload of tourists leaving for Pakistan and it was starting its engine. A Chinese officer was accompanying it to the border. This officer then told me that if I ride my bike slowly and kept it within his sight, I can be allowed to ride to Pakistan. And if he loose sight of me, I would be fined 10000 Yuan !! I have never ridden that slowly on this trip over such good road. But Youpie I got out of China with the bike … aahh the Chinese customs and its rules are really boring and no fun.

15 Responses to « China (part 3) – Too hot to ride in the Taklamakan desert  »

  1. Hi Sheen,
    http://thestar.com.my/metro/st.....ec=central
    You’re still in the front page of the Star Online.
    What’s your plan like ….. Delhi or Kathmandu?

    Peter

  2. Hi Sheen,

    The view of the Himalayas is just breathtaking. Congratulations for making headlines. Your LSU fans are very proud of you and will keep supporting you.

    Take care,

    Teresa

  3. ….. “5cm diameter rubber section was ripped away from the rear tyre”

    That pic depicted what your KUDA’s tyre had gone thro’ and you too.
    Take Care
    Peter

  4. Congratulations! You are in Star Metro! Drive safely and take care!

    Kua Family,
    Bukit Indah,
    Johor, MALAYSIA

  5. Sheen,

    Your photos are really great shots and they are telling me alot about your adventures.

    When you have the time, do respond to tell me about your camera model and how you manage on the entry visa matter.

    In the meantime, I will have you in my prayers for your successful journey back to Segamat, Malaysia by bike.

    Cherios,

    Frankie

  6. Theres a saying in malay ‘Sirih Pulang ke Gagang’ and you r making it, with a bang!
    As a motorcyclist myself, i envy your passion. I wish i could see those places and meet the people. Have a great journey home.

    Nabil

  7. I am SOOO proud of you, you can’t imagine. Your article is really well written don’t worry. Now youre in Delhi, BRAVO!!! stay safe dada 🙂

  8. Siew Hoon & Victoria29 June 2008 à 9:37 pm

    Hi-Sheen,
    Another interesting update & beautiful photos. A few years ago Victoria gave me a beautiful Christmas present,a book -Himalaya by Michael Palin.And, to know that you have seen such beauty, of the Himalayas – I am really happy for you. Do enjoy your adventure further,but be careful & take care.

  9. Salut Sheen, toujours aussi impressionnante tes photos ! Pour ton pneu je pense que lors de la traversée de la rivière, tu as du croiser un piranha affamé…je ne vois que cette explication. Par contre sur ta photo on voit bien que tes plaquettes de freins sont usées. Attention il faudra penser à les changer bientôt.
    Jspr que tu vas bien et que tu tiens bien le cap.
    je te souhaite une excellente continuation.
    Ride safe See you soon
    Bernard

  10. Hello All,

    Just a quick msg to say :
    – Frankie, I am carrying the camera Panasonic Lumix model DMC-FZ18. Its small, light and very handy, not taking up much space up front on the bike, allowing me to take smart shots quickly.
    – Noel, yes I saw the sheepskins on chinese bikes in Xinjiang, but they looked aweful when I first saw them. Now I regret not having one custom made for my horse.
    – Bernard, je pense c’est un gentil poisson la haut dans la montagne.

    Currently in Delhi and arranging to have the bike airfreighted out to Bangkok. I would say its chaos on the roads in India. Some great photos of Pakistan coming up next.

    Sheen

  11. you have told us so much about the beauty of the landscape in pakistan …can`t wait to see the photos. So happy to se you again after all this time! take care, love, Lydia

  12. Hey Sheen,
    Keep em coming. You are doing a great job out there. After seeing you do this, I may take my bike to England this summer. Should do the journey home in about 15 hours, including the ferry crossing. I bet you wish you could do that!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Stay safe Sheen, travel well.
    Dave

  13. Hi Sheen,

    Knowing that you are doing this to help the needy touches my heart. I hope it works although I believe it won’t be easy in these difficult times we are living. I noticed there are a lot of people who are very generous including some of the people that you have been meeting along your journey who have provided you with help even though you are a total stranger to them. It’s nice to see there are people like them in the world.

    Take care,

    Teresa

  14. I can’t wait to see you in malaysia !!!

  15. annie jeanmichel erwan gwen3 July 2008 à 10:32 am

    SALUT
    QUE DE COULEURS ET DE CONTRASTES ….LE DESERT LES MONTAGNES LES RIVIERES LE MARCHE LES PORTRAITS…ET TA MOTO QUI PASSE LA NUIT AU CHAUD DANS LE HALL DE L HOTEL…
    CONTINUE A NOUS FAIRE REVER ET BONNE ROUTE

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