Through the Gobi on the China side
Once I crossed into China, my ride becomes much faster thanks to the good road. I had a very good tail wind and I rode about 140km in only under 7 hours without producing much sweat. But good things like this doesn’t happen everyday. After I had a 2 days rest in Sonid Youqi, the wind blew from the southwest, directly towards my face. And my ride towards Hohhot in the southwest of Sonid Youqi, was a tough one. It took me 4 days to cover 260km towards Hohhot. Not much climbing, only one small mountainpass just a few kilometers before Hohhot but the headwind is so far my biggest enemy. Luckily the distance between towns is near, always something for every 30-40km, big towns in between but cars are driving really fast which made me feel like Im riding my bicycle in a F1 circuit.
The first day I only did some 50km and surrended earlier, I stopped cycling as early as 4pm and couldn’t take it anymore. The wind was blowing way too strong. I just camped in the open field and setting up my tent in a very strong wind was another challenge. Right after I setup my tent, I quickly lay my sleeping bag and took a good nap. I felt so tired even to cook dinner… after fighting the wind for 50km. The next morning it was calm when I had my breakfast but once I hit the road, the headwind started blowing again. The wind is really testing me!
But thank god its not as cold anymore. I use my thick jacket only for a pillow nowadays, no more wearing it unless when it gets cold very early in the morning, which is quite rare lately. Now my sleeping bag works fine in this weather. No more subzero temperatures, my drinks never get frozen anymore overnight. But finally, I get punctures on my front tyre here. Nothing new, it’s a normal problem for a long distance tourer. People are friendly here and very talkative. The problem is only language barrier but I’m picking up my chinese fast now. I can say many things but the problem is… I don’t understand when they reply me. Hehe… people here should talk slower to foreigners, but they speak to me so fast as in I’m a native speaker. So talking to people when I wanna buy things or deal anything with them, will usually take double the time.
I still see Mongolian gers here, but seldom see the real one like in Mongolia. Most gers here are built for tourists. I went to tourist ger in a grassland north of Hohhot, and realize that the gers here are a bit different than the real one. It looks so small and cute! I showed the pictures I took in Mongolia on my phone to the Mongols here… and some were even shocked to see the gers in Mongolia. I was quite surprised that they didn’t even know how the real gers in Mongolia look like. Some never been there in Mongolia. But one good thing about the Mongols in China, they still preserve their traditional writings. In Mongolia, they have changed the writings to Cyrillic writings (Russians) but not here. At a fast glance, it looks a bit like Arabic writings, but they write vertically.
Good thing I spent time with some other tourists in the grassland from Germany and Canada. Had a good time chatting with them and did some short hiking together. Since I crossed into China, I feel a bit lonely. Its hard to find a local who speak English here. So meeting other tourists can be much fun and that’s another good reason why I like to travel alone. So I can easily get to know other tourists from a totally different part of the world and I like to make fresh friends… it’s a good thing to make a new friend who doesn’t know you background and history, everything is fresh, where usually it will start by asking “where are you from”, then start to learn how to pronounce each other’s name, followed by endless interesting conversation, because we both have been to so many places and see so many things.