After a superb late lunch (washed down with Wutzala's home made hooch) in a small one donkey town reminiscent of the Wild West, we trotted on to our hotel for the night. This transpired to be a deserted ex AK47 factory (!) with abandoned Soviet style residential blocks set round a small lake hidden away in the forested hills. To my amazement, the horses were led through a couple of little doors into a huge empty auditorium which was to be their quarters for the night. Once a hall for Chinese dignitaries, now a stable for foreign devils.
We stayed in the ancient 1950s hotel which no doubt once housed visiting Russian weapons experts - it had seen better days, and although it had wood panelling, hot shower tanks, TVs and Western bathrooms, the only things that worked (happily) were the flush loos. Even the bedside lights had no bulbs. We stayed in solitary splendour on the top floor, and discovered in the morning that we were locked in until the caretaker arrived! It would have made an excellent location for a zombie movie.
The horses in their unusual stabling, complete with stage - we could not persuade them to give a song and dance act. Below - me on Zorbee sporting my new white Michael Jackson gloves bought this morning for £1.50 in a kind of Chinese Old Curiosity Shop. You can see I look like a creature from another planet, and together with Li Jing we attract a lot of curious stares.
Today Li Jing and I only rode about 16 miles - but WEST at last! Wutzala still appears to be on a mission to send us via the North Pole, and we are constantly being pressured to ride north via Inner Mongolia, although it is likely to add over a month to the journey, assuming we do not freeze to death on the way.
The horses are going like bombs - I think the feeding is getting through to them and they are certainly all on their toes. It is difficult to take photos as I go along as there is a bitterly cold wind sweeping down from Mongolia (!) and the horses insist on going everywhere at a trot. Hei Feng and Zorbee are both pacers, but I have not got the hang of keeping Zorbee at it yet.
We had an extra bit of entertainment when we found an enormous white mule bearing down on us at full gallop, having pulled out its tether - superman Li Jing managed to catch it and tie it to a tree someway down the road where one hopes its owner will eventually have found it.