Extracts from Will’s diary: China
We pitched our tents in a landscape that looked like the surface of the moon. Mongolia and the Gobi desert were just over the mountains to the north and the Taklaman desert to the south. There is nothing out here.
During our cycle around the world I kept a diary to record the daily events. Despite all the videos and photos that we’ve already shown you there are some things best captured through pen and paper. Below are some of the best bits from our journey across China. The story kicks off in the foothills of the Tian Shan mountains in the far west and finishes on the eastern coast at the port of Qingdao.
DAY 100 – 28 July (China)
Just as we were going to sleep the wind picked up again, soon followed by driving rain into the pagoda we were sheltering under. We rapidly decamped to find shelter behind the long drop at the bottom of the hill. Wind felt like it was going to tear the tent in half. Not much sleep that night.
Day 101 – 29 July (China)
We are now having pot noodle for lunch as well as dinner. Soon we’re going to turn into a noodle.
DAY 101 – 29 JULY (China)
I’ve now got a photo on my phone of how to say ‘no chilis’ in Chinese which means we can now order food that I can actually eat without having a meltdown.
DAY 104 – 1 AUGUST (China)
Grand depart from the hotel in Shihezi involved all the very over excited female receptionists coming out for a photoshoot with us. Two young girls who were in fact twins declared their love for Johan’s blond locks with gifts of tea flasks. I got a screwdriver set.
DAY 105 – 2 AUGUST (China)
Huge cross winds today as we made our way through what must be the world’s biggest wind farm. Both got blown off the road and I actually got flipped over down a bank with the bike landing on top of me. Quite terrifying being so exposed to the elements with nowhere to hide.
DAY 106 – 3 AUGUST (China)
Today we reached the lowest place on the trip at 50m below sea level in the Turpan depression. The heat was unbearable, with temperatures well into the 40’s and there was a genuine concern our tyres might melt.
DAY 107 – 4 AUGUST (China)
Undone by a closed petrol station, we cycled this afternoon with only 500ml of water between us. With dry, rasping throats we eventually made the 70km to the next shop. After re-fuelling we pitched our tents in a landscape that looked like the surface of the moon. Mongolia and the Gobi desert were just over the mountains to the north and the Taklaman desert to the south. There is nothing out here.
DAY 109 – 6 AUGUST (China)
Woke up from our post-lunch siesta and saw a huge sand storm blowing in. Quickly hopped on our bikes and rode the crest of the storm. Being blown along at 45kph without even pedalling we did 175km in an afternoon, making the day equal our biggest ever distance of 225km
DAY 110 – 7 AUGUST (China)
Obviously both quite fit now as we raced each other up a 60km climb concluding with a sprint finish to the summit. I won’t tell you who won. I did. Stayed in the tiny town of Liuyan that night where we found one of the most disgusting long drops of all time. Quite a traumatic experience so we ended up having to pee out the bedroom window.
DAY 117 – 14 AUGUST (China)
We’d been tracking the ruins of the western end of the Great Wall of China all day, so when we spotted an old fort on the wall we decided that would be a good place to sleep. Turned out to be inhabited by a very friendly family who asked us to stay. Slept in a line on one bed with the whole family.
DAY 120 – 17 AUGUST (China)
The G30 (Expressway) wound its way through terraced valleys packed full of strips of maize – the Chinese will grow crops anywhere – so quite hard to find a place to camp. Eventually found a derelict greenhouse which did the job.
DAY 125 – 22 AUGUST (China)
Most insane day of punctures we’ve had on the trip – with about 10 punctures in Johan’s back wheel. Felt bizarre that by the end of the day his puncture fest had overshadowed my bike snapping in half in the morning.
DAY 128 – 25 AUGUST (China)
All went a bit pear shaped today as we entered mining territory. 1000m climb up into the hills with endless lorries spilling coal dust all over us. Nice to have a shower as basically covered in grime.
DAY 129 – 26 AUGUST (China)
Hit Luoyang at rush hour and it was 2-wheeled bicycle/scooter bedlam. Never seen such a swarm of wheels. Any car or pedestrian that strayed too close was in big trouble. Amazing to be part of.
DAY 130 – 27 AUGUST (China)
Crossed the Yellow River and entered the big open flood plain that would take us to the coast. Drab, hazy landscape of maize fields as far as the eye can see. Plugged in and put our heads down.
DAY 133 – 30 AUGUST (China)
Nothing happened today. Got on our bikes. Cycled 135km. Got off our bikes. Checked into guesthouse. Ate pot noodle. Slept.
DAY 137 – 3 SEPTEMBER (China)
29 years old today. Definitely feeling it after this trip so far, but glad we’ve made it to Qingdao and our first glimpse of the sea in months. Both a bit lost for words about crossing China – just feel a bit numb that we’ve come so far but also a bit depressed that the worst hardship of the trip is now behind us.