Day 5. Approx 950KM (could this be the record drive to date?)
I shall fill you in on our progress since the last blog; the officials at the licensing building stayed open late just for us and we finally got our licences at 21:00. We said we would take the kind people home and it was our first real inner city driving.
Our guide took us to our hotel only to be told they didn't accept foreigners...Xiao pleaded hard but to no avail. We sat on the steps whilst he tried to find somewhere else and the local children came to play football with us.
At 23:00 we found a nice little place to eat that did a barbeque and the food that came was very welcome although very, very spicy...well for some of us anyway!
We eventually found a hotel that would accept very tired and in need of a shower brits and we all retired to our rooms. Early wake up call required as we wanted to be on the road for 6am to try and make up some time.
Chris and I said we would get up early to send our blogs via the BGAN, so all in all we were to have another short nights sleep of 4 hours.
In our room we decided to get into our mozzy nets as we had been bitten lots to date and there was a big hole in the wall! Lisa and I looked very silly however it was a good call as no new bites found in the morning!
5am came around too early but the cold shower (that’s all that was on offer) woke me up. The blog was successfully sent although this had to be done by scorian torch light.
6am came and went and our leader, Mr Richard Nicholson, was once again late! We set off just as the rain came down but the roads were clear and it gave us a good start.
The terrain we came up against early into the drive was the most difficult to date, we drove through a massive dust ridden valley where mining was taking place and others were building a new road. We off-roaded for approx 100km but I have to say it was great fun.
We saw glorious scenery from mountains and valleys to huge lakes we reached approx 2090m and for a few minutes I was wishing I'd packed anything that was warm!
The next 3 or 4 hours were all driven on dual carriageway roads and became repetitive, We amused ourselves with taking silly pictures and some mischievous people amongst us stole the zebras and wouldn't give them back.
We finally reached Urumqui, a massive City, complete contrast to the barren land we had travelled through for most of the day. The traffic was horrendous, there doesn't appear to be many rules here and my first time driving the defender was a tough test. It was now around 19:00 and we only had time for a quick pit stop that Xiao needed to make. The streets were lined with people, the buildings all shapes, sizes and colours, it was quite spectacular. There were lots of Olympic pictures, banners, grass shaped models of runners and archers and models of the torch on display through the city, we were now officially on the torch route.
We decided as a team to press on and try and make more progress though it would have been great to stay and shop...a least the credit card didn't leave my pocket, no need to worry yet Ade! Out of town was a tricky one which saw us go down a wrong way street and onto a dual carriageway, My eyes remained shut for a few minutes hoping the extrication skills and equipment Prometheus had taught us wouldn't have to be used. Only a slight bump from Mr Rob Wardell into the front of our defender to show for it; we didn't feel a thing not sure about him!
As I'm writing this it is now 20:30 and we are on a long and winding road to Turpan...I'm sure that’s a song isn't it?
We hope to eat when we get there which theoretically should be around 22:00. Once again this will be our first meal of the day, I hope leg 4 are appreciating our huge efforts back at home to make up the distance (can I please have a rest when you get here!)
Melissa Wade SRP