The Leaving of Lanzhou
As with all my extended stays in cities it’s always a little hard when it comes to leaving; you get used to a certain level of comfort. That comfort in Lanzhou came at 35RMB per night so it was doubly hard to leave.
Lanzhou has some of the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. It’s a common problem in China and one which my former city of residence Xiamen also suffered terribly from. I think the problem stems from the fact that the cities traffic infrastructure was designed many years ago when the vast majority of locals didn’t have vehicles. However with their new found wealth many people have run out and bought cars. As a result the streets of Lanzhou are simply teeming with them, too many for it to handle.
Leaving the city was a drawn out affair as I dodged and weaved my way in and out of the traffic. There was a time when I used to love riding in cities but certainly not now and even more so with a fully loaded bike. People are liable just to walk out in front of you or cars will suddenly change direction at the drop of a hat.
I don’t wish to get on my high horse here but bike lanes are designed specifically for that purpose, namely bikes. If you want to drive in the bike lane then buy a bike it’s very simple. I witnessed one guy today who was stuck in single lane traffic; he kept edging half of his car into the bike lane and looking for a way to go down on the inside. The upshot of this all was that myself and some other cyclists couldn’t pass. In the end I resorted to arm waving and telling him in the politest way possible to get over. It’s the impatience I don’t understand.
Anyway rant over….
The days riding was pretty easy and that was largely due to the fact that it was mostly flat; it felt good to be back in the saddle.
I’m very excited about this leg of the journey as I head out towards the desert. I’ve read many accounts of people who’ve crossed this desert and also spoken to many Chinese people about travelling in this region. Everyone has their own story and some are more credible than others.
I prefer not to read too much into the scare stories which would have you believe the desert is a place full of merciless bandits and blood thirty wolves.
I’m looking forward to the challenge, I’m not going to underestimate it that is for sure and I’ve made sure I’m fully prepared as usual to take on this task. It’s very much new territory for me.
I had planned to camp but with 110km on the clock and I came across the small town of Yongdeng. I was fortunate to stumble across a hotel as soon as I entered the town and before long I’d negotiated the 60RMB for the night.
So I have officially now started the famous ‘Silk Road’ which I hope will lead me and my bike all the way to Urumqi. I’d just like to say yet another thanks to all those people who’ve kindly donated to my justgiving page, I would love to be able to write to you all and thank you but my Internet time is so limited. Thanks also to all the people who have offered prayers and words of encouragement, it really drives me on.
I'm as usual behind with my blog and currently writing this at 11:02 Chinese time, eyes fading fast, apologies for any mistakes, too tired to check!