11-12 June – Kyrgyzstan-China – ~220 miles
After an early start from Naryn, to arrive at the Kyrgyz border by about 8:30am yesterday morning, and then getting to the start of the Chinese border about 10am…
technically, I guess the border crossing is actually still in progress.
Tuesday 9:30 – leave Kyrgz border
Tuesday 9:40 – arrive at first Chinese military post, wait at 3,765m altitude, -2.5°C at times, top of the Torugart Pass, for our Chinese “guide” to arrive
Tuesday 1pm-ish – ride the 4 miles down to Chinese checkpoint/customs… wait several hours while they have lunch, then get bikes X-rayed, and then take one item of luggage (of our choosing) into the shed for further X-ray, and for all photos on our phones/cameras to be perused
~ Clocks jump forward 2 hours to Beijing-Standard-Time ~
Tuesday 6pm-ish – ride another 50 miles or so through some sort of weird semi-militarised-zone, to a “local police checkpoint” – where they again x-ray one item of our choosing, and take iPhone-photos of passports
Tuesday 8pm-ish – ride another 15 miles to the “formal” Chinese Border Control. Park bikes, go through immigration, take any luggage we want for the evening through X-ray
Tuesday 10pm-ish – take a bus into Kashgar, where we’re staying for the next few days. Apparently the normal speed limit for a bus is 80km/h… but after 10pm, it drops to 70km/h. (Of course, in Kashgar, at 10pm Beijing-Standard-Time – there is still a couple of hours of sunlight left) And it has some GPS-linked unit monitoring and restricting the speed.
Wednesday 1am-ish – reach the hotel, try to find some dinner/etc – after spending the entire day living on chocolate and nuts
Wednesday 9am – I discover that it’s not just a 9am team meeting to discuss what’s happening next – we’re getting back on the bus. No breakfast. Two nights running with very little sleep, 1 day of too much sun, and no breakfast… not in a fit state to cope with Chinese “procedures”, and/or english riders complaining about same “procedures”.
Wednesday 10:30 – arrive back at the Border Control Complex, where the bikes are. Get Chassis numbers checked against paperwork. Wait around to see what happens next.
Wednesday 12:00 – ride the bikes through a lane one-by-one, I believe having photos taken of each one as it passes through. Park up, wait around to see what happens next.
Wednesday 14:00 – get told by “Guide” to “hurry up, hurry up” – to get on bikes, and ride around the corner to another Customs complex. Park up bikes, get on bus, go find somewhere for lunch.
Eat lunch – sit around to see if/when/what happens next. At this point, people are going a little stir-crazy.
Wednesday 16:30 – back to Customs complex, where the staff arrive back from their own lunch – and then proceed to… check Chassis numbers against paperwork. Sit around while presumably that is entered into computers, before being told to “hurry up” to get out of the complex.
Wednesday 19:00-ish – finally start riding back into Kashgar… but with 3 more checkpoints to pass through. The 40 mile journey, with some excessive speeding (as a tightly bunched group, and through speed cameras every couple of miles) – took 2 hours.
Wednesday 21:00-ish, arrive back at hotel, with bikes this time, in the middle of some festival and/or wedding… with the laowai bikes immediately grabbing all attention.
Tomorrow – more to do… with Chinese driver’s licences and registration plates to be acquired.
And – very slow/monitored internet – not sure if/when I’m going to be able to post updates and/or photos.
Also, thinking back… some great landscapes during that border crossing, as usual. Riding at high altitude, still surrounded by towering ranges… then get even higher – where the plains to each side are covered in snow… with mountain peaks to each side. Rather cool (pun not initially intended) – but not too many photos, as much of the best stuff was in the zone where the Chinese military would have had rather strong objections to any sort of photography.