First thing in the morning we went to refuel the cars. It was a remarkable fuel station with more than one diesel petrol pump and everybody was allowed in. The road to Ruoqiang was monotonous, the only interesting thing was a tractor pulling a whole tree and goats crossing the road. We spent the night in a very simple hotel.
Before we left Ruoqiang, we had to go to the mechanics, because Brecht had detected that one wheel of his car was loosing air. The mechanic was very professional, found a screw in the tire, removed it and repaired it in no time. At the shop next door we got some candies and were quite amazed to find Swiss Sugus! In China they are called Swiss candies.
The scenery got more interesting that day and we saw huge undergoing road and train track construction work. The Chinese are building a highway and a train track at the same time. It will be completed in two years. The existing road was also under construction. There are abundant oil and mineral reserves that have been found in recent years in this region and they are being highly exploited. It’s China’s largest natural gas producing region. We crossed and overtook numerous heavily loaded trucks too. They carry all kinds of goods on today’s Silk Road.
We left the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for the Qinghai (清海）Province. There was one last police checkpoint where we had unexpected problems. They let the first three cars through with no control and stopped the two last cars of our caravan. Since Chang was in the first car with all our passports they couldn’t explain to the police who they were and we had to turn and go back to get them.
We reached Huatugou, an oil-drilling town in the middle of the desert, in the evening. It’s a brand new city built by the petrol company with an airport at the altitude of 3000 m. Our hotel was called Petrolhotel. Philippe and André decided to stay at the hotel that evening and I went with Gaby, Chantal and Gisèle for a walk. In the park there was a gym group and we tried to join them for a little while but got quickly out of breath because of the altitude. Then we went to a little restaurant where we were able to order a tasty meal thanks to my little knowledge of the Mandarin language and pleco. The conversation with the tenant couple was difficult though, because they didn’t speak Mandarin. But they were thrilled by our visit and took several videos from us. Later a man arrived who spoke Mandarin and knew about Switzerland. I was able to talk to him and tell him about our Silk Road journey. He offered us water melon for desert.