Cross China Road Trip: 10,000 Miles Ahead & One Tent Peg

China Road Map 27

click to enlarge

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!

Yes it’s a beast

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.

IMG_4399This 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 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!


43 replies

  1. Wow — go for it Andy 😊! Remember keep your speed below 90 km per hour as fuel consumption Really sucks after that — you MUST give your vehicle a personality ( Black Bitch 😉) I’d be happier to see the extra fuel on a roof rack as fumes may be unpleasant in the truck.
    Ever heard of ” cargo cults ” – interesting history in Melanesia and Polynesia – your couriers arriving sounded like a modern day cargo cult !
    Let the dream unfold , all the uncertainties , worries , anxieties can be left behind in Beijing .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya mate > Thanks for your words of encouragement. I know what you mean about the petrol cans but they say I cant put them on the rack in China (hmmmm) > I only plan to use them when I’m going off the main road such as mountain passes etc. Loathed to have em inside. I’ve got some super strong rachet straps so I’ll be sorely tempted to put em on top. Black Bitch LOLOL I immediately called it The Beast so I guess thats the one LOLOL > Ive settled into my iPad now with all the apps you suggested. The Valley of Death has a 60kph speed limit. Go above it and you’ll lose your licence. Must admit I’m a bit nervous mate but I know once I’m on the road that’ll be it! Yes Yes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hiya Bruce > will be soloing it though that’s what I’m used to. Anyway, after reading my book you know exactly what kind of traveller I am > hopefully not too many calamities this time > I reckon solo is the best way to meet people. I hope I do > wifs and strays it is touch wood


      • ah — yes — solo is such an advantage in meeting lots of people . Good thinking — and you have lots of time to observe and soak it all in. Inspiration for interesting blog posts
        All best

        Liked by 1 person

  2. best wishes for a crazy good trip Andy! i am thinking i would photograph what i had in each box so i wouldn’t be rummaging for something that’s sitting in another box! just a little thought i had that maybe might be helpful. i love following you on this trip through your video and look forward to listening to your “story”. I can really feel your enthusiasm and imagine the people you will meet and sights you will see. you seem well prepared, especially in your head so that’s what really counts, i understand the nervousness about not being able to go buy what i forgot to pack or have run out etc but i think you are quite resourceful and will come up with some interesting alternatives….ok enough from me….get some rest before you hit the road! TOUCH WOOD!

    Liked by 1 person

      • when i traveled a lot and had like loads of boxes like i see you have i forgot where i had placed certain things, so i photographed the contents so i could easily go to the box i needed something for, makes sense? it helped me, maybe because i am forgetful and not so organised? saved me time searching. do you leave this monday?

        Liked by 1 person

      • see i told you, better organised than me…yes i did watch the video and enjoyed the narrative very much, i was wondering what the wire mesh was at the beginning of the video, when you were showing us the highway with lots of cars.

        Liked by 1 person

      • keep the talking its nice to hear the story behind the pictures and photos, gives more depth and understanding. even like this preparation post and video, it gets us engaged from the start, looking at the stuff you have described and been packing, amazing, this is such an amazing trip, i salute your bravery!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya Sally > The last stop on my journey I hope to be the haunted ‘Closed Door Village’ in Henan. No one goes there or has ever done a proper investigation. Its very Blair Witch from what I can tell. I have my SB7 and Melmeter so watch this space 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are such a hardcore traveler Andy! I know you will have a great trip and I cannot wait to read all your stories. Maybe it is much better you can film your stories on the way and do some time-lapse about the places you visiting.

    Xinjiang is a nice place. My dad was there back in summer 2005. You will meet Wéiwú’ěr zu (one of the minorities in China) and see their traditional dance. It is really beautiful. There are two hours time difference from that in Beijing. I wish I could be there someday too!

    Have fun with your beast. You probably need a spare tire too just in case.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hiya Julie > Cheers though I do really see it as a casual drive around China LOL. The advantages are I will lose weight and I can sleep wherever I like – well, out of the way of curious locals that is. I’m going to be driving slowly and I have tonnes of time 🙂 Where are the Weiwu er Zu then? I mean what part of Xinjiang?


      • haha dont waste the room service. They are all over. You will also meet people from other minority ethnic groups too. Sometime you cannot really tell and all you can do is too ask. You need to eat more to gain energy for your travels. And your vid makes me homesick so freaking much!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya Natasha > Yes I really hope that fin times lie ahead. Fingers crossed, but hey your trip to Cairo looks awesome. Best of luck with that one 🙂 There’s always space in the jeep ha ha


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