Well it’s taken long enough but at long last all that needs to be done is move the massive amount of gear from the apartment down into the back of the Land Cruiser that’s parked out front and its offski!
I can’t quite believe that the time has finally arrived and I don’t think it’ll truly sink in until I’m on the road.
Complete freedom awaits!
So the plan is to drive from East to Western China. Touch wood the trip’ll take me through at least eight provinces over two months; Inner Mongolia, Ningxia Autonomous Region, Gansu, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Shanxi, Henan and Shandong.
I’ll be living out of the jeep mostly having found a foldable bed that fits snugly inside or in an as yet untested tent. I easily admit to being addicted to Chinese hotels so will definitely be heading for luxury in every major along the way to get the laundry done. Ahhh room service!
It’s been a mad ride in itself to get to this point. I remember back in 2005 when I left China how different travelling was. For me it was a trolley bag, two bank cards, an e-mail address while attempting to find somewhere that could burn my meager number of photos on to a CD for storage.
This time nearly all of my stuff has been bought online which meant at times the door bell was constantly ringing as package after package arrived. Often the same package would be sent back leading to a stressful waste of time reordering from somewhere else. One time I got a single tent peg instead of the ten I’d ordered. Double wrapped in corrugated cardboard, one can only speculate as to what whoever sent it was thinking at the time. The same also happened with a single bungee hook and a single roof rack ratchet strap. Maybe they had a ‘send one item at a time’ policy. Among many other minor annoyances I bought a small mirror only to find that upon unboxing, someone had put a sticky label right in the middle of it AAAAAAGH!
I also seem to have an unreasonably large number of electrical cables for just about everything. Rechargeable this and USB that; I have a whole box of the things. And there was me with my CD player and twenty quid camera from Argos back in 2005.
Reservations and Worries
Everyone lives with the what ifs and the maybes and in this case you can multiply it all by one hundred:
- Xinjiang is dangerous. Everyone has their own opinion on this topic here in China which they are happy to voice even in the face of my imminent departure. Han Chinese say that the South of Xinjiang should be avoided at all costs but to be honest can’t actually tell me why even when I push them for some accuracy. On the other hand, any Xinjiang ren will always say that it is definitely not dangerous while also looking a bit pissed off about the topic. I must say that views from local expats who live over there also say that there are no problems.
- There are checkpoints all over the place in the South of Xinjiang. Keep your cameras firmly out of sight and your legal documents at hand. “Wo bus hi jizhe” means “I am not a journalist”.
- There are lots of places on the itinerary where petrol stations are scarce and the Land Cruiser is a very hungry beast. I’ve included two 5 gallon petrol cans for iffy parts of the journey but I reckon I’ll be spending most of my time looking at the fuel gage with earnest.
- My knowledge on motor mechanics is really crap. Having said that the same goes for nearly all drivers around here. I recently borrowed a friend’s car. I asked how I opened up the bonnet/hood but to my surprise he didn’t know. “Why do you want to know that?” was his strange reply.
- My Chinese speaking level is still crap. Mind you these days it is enough to get by.
- Dangerous mountain passes lie ahead!
Ok that’s it. I’ll be posting regularly here and on YouTube so it would be awesome to see you over there as well (big up thanks to Bruce on https://whatisbruceupto.com/ for all your iPad knowledge mate).
Monday morning, touch wood I’ll be putting the keys in the ignition.
Not a bad way to start the week I guess!