Another no-cycling day worth writing about. Those 250 kms will take you the whole day – and if you don’t take them as part of your trip, you’re not going to enjoy them!
So the bus was suppossed to leave Sost at 9am, but first we had to go through customs and passport control. Customs is horrible, since it takes forever to dissasemble your bags and go through every item you have, one by one, and explain what they are. In the end, they keep whatever they like: in our case they took away a swiss multi-tool knife and a detailed map from Pakistan. Just because. Fuckers.
Once everybody’s done that, put every bag in the bus/van. Another experience. It was almost 11.30 by the time we left. The road uphill was done pretty quick, even including paying the park entry, avoiding the rocks that almost killed us on previous day and showing our passports every now and then.
First you go through a modern great-wall made of wire. Then you arrive to customs. They make you unload, unpack and show every single item in the van again. They ask you what every thing is, and take away whatever they want (nothing in our case, some random items from other passengers). They played with our bikes (even rided on them) and were not nice AT ALL. The kind of person who thinks is well above you. Whatever. (All of this, by the way, at 4700 m)
Then the downhill starts. You can’t cycle here since they don’t give you the entry stamp at the top but 100 kms away, in Tashkurgan.
The downhill is very nice at the beginning. I was really sad we weren’t cycling through these places, and this enforced our idea: take a bus back to the border the day after, and then cycle from the top what we were doing by bus at that moment.
The road got flat soon though, and windy as hell, and the sights get worse. The most impressive things in this area are the changes.
- The weather. It was cold, cloudy and rainy here!!!
- Housing. The houses are absolutely different, government-built most of them and therefore very regular. The ones that are not, are surprisingly poor.
- Factories. There are facfories. They are ugly as hell, look like scenaries for B-series sci-fi movies and are, actually, quite scary. And they are in places so remote, and surrounded by such artificial towns, and that make you wonder lots of things.
- Wind. It’s increadibly windy here. Not nice for cycling, even less with buses and trucks driving as fast as possible.
- People. They are VERY different here… and not in a way you would expect! It’s not bad, of course, but the dresses, the shyness… it makes you realize you’re in another country straight away.
By the time we reached Tashkurgan it was dark (and rainy). Customs again, bagagge check again, passports and out in China as legal visitors. We found a cheap hotel and started to realize we were in China. In real, deep China.
What a place!!!! I won’t describe much since this blog is only about cycling… and since you must find out yourself 🙂