The most desolate junction in the world
Bayan Travel Blog› entry 68 of 86 › view all entries
"You must not leave today. Leave tomorrow. It will be windy!" Dooms day predictions seem to have become the norm when we try to leave so lwe don't really listen. But this taxi driver had powerfull backup: "Allah told me so!" And then to cover all possible protests he added "..and I heard it on the radio..." The horizon was yellow from dust and it did rain a bit, so we took his advice and checked straight back in.
No doubt he would have given us the same warning the next morning but he wasn't there and the dust had settled, so we left. Before 1 am we did 56 baren but easy km and then suddenly we must have reached the famous bottle neck as it felt like somebody very angry, grabbed my front wheel and shook it. We both had to get of and pushed at a mere 3 km pr hour and at times we had to stop completely as not to loose balance. I faught to hold my bike upright but it repeatedly just twisted with a gust of wind, feel over and dug its pedals deep into my ankles, leaving me with bleeding wounds. We couldn't stop because there was nowhere to stop;
Here nothing grows, it is uninhabitable and always windy. I imagined this may be the home of the winds that regulary travel over the Gobi and batter it and that we were wandering straight into their patch. Trespassing in to a place where humans should'nt bee. Luckily the wind blew down on us, so no dust was picked up and we could see the landscape clearly. We trotted on for 9 km until we reached the most desolate junction in the world: If you come from the mountains and go left the road will take you through the Gobi desert and if you go right it will take you through the Taklamakan desert.
Surrealistic as this place was, we found a little toll station and behind a wall was the greenest garden. It seemed like the Chinese had tried to build a gate between normality and the illusionary world of the deserts. Here we waited and waited but the wind never died down. At 8 pm we decided to sleep in a truckers motel with inch thick grease on the walls. As pr usual, when weathers are rough theses places are heaven for us.
The next morning the wind was still howling but we crept on. A river appeared, grass and trees and then a village with about three ancient Uighur inhabitants. As Chinese toll and petrolstation staff obviously are incapable of keeping anything slightly out of the ordinary (They tend to build concrete steeps on statues and put ticket booths everywhere instead!) I suspect these three ancient people were the true keepers of the Taklamakan and Gobi desert's winds and dusts and their mirrages and colour games, because as we passed this village all became still.
And then a slight tailwind blew us up into a higher valley which surprised us with grand views. A snow peaked mountain range in the north, an old fortress, yurts, sheep and a little village all surrounded by the lushest green. We spent the night amongst big green hills. Urumqi and it's 2 million people were only 16 km away but out here you wouldn't have known it even existed. This was still the world of sheepherds, farmers and nomads. From now until about 700 km after Almaty in Kazakhstan we would be at the foot of enormous mountainranges. We had reached a bit that we have booth looked forward to since leaving home. It is the route less traveled (Most over landers go over Tibet or through India) and the places we would pass in the comming month (Appart from Urumuqi) were places remote and out of the way, unused to travellers and still full of herders and nomads. No tickets booths, no concrete steps and no pushy Chinese tourgroups.