Across Continents

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Escape from Urumqi

Garage team - web

I’d only stopped to ask for directions. Yes, explained the chorus of voices, this being the most well staffed petrol station I’d ever encountered, I was on the right road. Heading for the town of Dabanchang for the night. But they had rooms here, the collective quickly added.

 The manager appeared, a young, jovial chap, with a greater smattering of English than I had of Mandarin. Some confusion. I’d been slow to grasp what he meant by “no money” when I enquired about the room rate – he’d read my little card explaining my venture in Simplified Chinese and had decided to offer me a bed for the night for free.

Rather better luck than earlier in the day. Started well enough, picking my way across the city of Urumqi. Succeeded in finding the right road south without too much difficulty. And relatively cool, perhaps just twenty degrees, with the wind on my back. Made a change. Pleasant enough. Gentle incline, steady progress along the hard shoulder of the dual carriageway.

Then the realisation that the hissing noise wasn’t one of the many roadside sprinklers. It was my rear tyre. Puncture number six. Not a bad innings, but still a good half hour job to unload all the kit, effect a repair, and getting going once more. Busy road so I improvised a warning triangle with the bright red panniers and my rear light.

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