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Published: March 10th 2018
Xinjiang Barbecue outfit
As seen in Ruoqiang, an especially big one.
We are now at Ruoqiang; it is probably fair to say that we are no longer in a position to savour the cultural aspects of this trip, as bureaucracy has moved from a peripheral to an overwhelming level. This is disappointing, since every aspect of our trip was agreed in detail and submitted to the Chinese authorities before we were issued with our visas. After two nights in (very attractive) Ruoqiang we move on to Dunhuang, which may be less taxing.
Woke up in Qiemo to a brilliand sunny, cloudless day. No breakfast but Yudu Hotel courtesy car had us at the bus station by 08.45 am, Maghnus managed the tickets rather well and we left the smart, modern bus station in a very comfortable bus at 10.00 as scheduled, £7.50 each (61 yuan). Driver was good, music was pleasant and we made surprisingly good time, reached Ruoqiang by 16.30hrs, having encountered only one security check (which was, however, extraordinarily tedious and slow). Trundled our bags a few hundred metres to the Youlan Hotel, faded glory (although less than 20 years old) with nice courtyard garden, decorative pool etc. Receptionist was expecting us, check-in very smooth.
Journey was splendid
On the road at full pace
An Irish reference, Faugh a' Bhallagh! The road to Ruoqiang.
– after the first hour we ran into open desert, then genuine sand-dunes and for the last hour or so we were running on a raised roadway, up to 2 metres above the surrounding totally open, totally flat yellow/white sandy desert, which went to (and probably beyond) the horizon in all directions. One imagines that Salt Lake in Utah looks much the same, and one wondered why the loose surface did not form dunes.
We celebrated with a cup of tea in the courtyard, and had almost finished when the authorities arrived. We intend to go direct to Dunhuang from here (in fact our visas were approved on that basis) but we had the very greatest difficulty in running this past the officials who had come to see us. Maghnus was very persistent, so there was a great deal of poring over our huge maps and an enormous amount of texting between the officers and Maghnus using a translation device. Eventually it has been agreed that we will advise them of the details as soon as we have arranged a car; failing which we will have to make an enormous detour to the southeast via Golmud; there is no
This painstaking work goes for many, many miles beside road and rail. Dunes in background.
Travel Agency in Ruaqiang but we have a contact in Kashgar who might help. The detour would probably involve an overnight stay (unauthorised accommodation) and the loss of a vital day at Dunhuang, a red-letter destination.
Anyway, we went out for something to eat (no breakfast, no lunch so quite hungry) and came across a brilliant Uighir restaurant with a special twist. They had proper inside seating in a clean, bright well-appointed restaurant, and in two enormous chilled displays they had rack after rack of skewers all ready for their giant traditional BBQ outside. (Oddly, Christa points out, they had everything under the sun, from lettuce to frogs and selected gizzards, but no mutton! So maybe not Uighir after all, just Uighir style?). Any it was a sight for sore eyes! So, we made up for any post-arrival tribulations with a splendid feast and slowly ambled home. Unfortunately that amble was followed by extraordinary bureaucracy which led to very lengthy and trying delay; so our “early night” was not to be. There is, you can imagine, no more to be said. Tomorrow is another day – exploring Ruoqiang.
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