Monday, 19 April 2010

Oasis days

We have reached Anxi or Guazhou as it is now called, after only four days riding from Yumen. This has meant a couple of rather too long days in the saddle, so we are all, including horses, ready for a day off. But the weather has changed overnight from icy winter to warm spring, so we have stripped off several layers of clothing and feel a little less like a pair of Michelin men.

Riding through the small oasis settlements beyond Yumen has been very enjoyable as the countryside is quiet and unspoilt and the people friendly but curious. Below is the crowd we attracted at a lunch stop! However we also had our first brush with officialdom. At our first overnight stop Sandaogou we were approached by a very earnest and polite young policeman who required us to sign a registration form – the first time it has happened since I started riding! Then at the next village we were met by a posse of local officials who wanted to examine our passports, know where we were going, how long we were staying etc – I suspect they were just nosey.

On Wednesday we stayed at Bulongqi, where there are the ruins of an old city which French and Cable estimated must have held at least 50,000 inhabitants. All that can be seen now is a ruined citadel and the remains of the old city wall. Unfortunately we found no sign of the treasure which lies buried beneath according to local legend. It would have come in handy. The following day I had planned a slight detour which turned out to be an excellent decision, as it took us along a deserted gravel road for miles through an extensive area of wetland inhabited by a variety of birds, some of which we recognised (herons)and some not. But it was a long and weary day’s ride with no welcoming inn at the end, so we were very grateful to find shelter in the building below, courtesy of local farmer Mr Chen. The black mats are actually cotton seeds spread out to air before planting.
Our room was deep in dust and here is Peng sweeping it out at my suggestion – not a very good one as you can see... Here is the room some time later when the dust had settled….

…and after we had demolished several large bowls of delicious noodles provided by our generous host, shown here with brother in law and replete foreigners.


  1. Good luck with this next stage of the Gobi - at least the weather seems to be warming up. There are lots of people here asking about TLHR and wishing you well.

  2. We wish you a very good ride, indeed, and think your butt freezing musty dusty recent interlude is perfect preperation for evenings in the desert. Happy to see that Zorbee hasn't lost his touch and that you wisely walked him before attempting to ride him. Takes a lad like that a little time to get things straight. Sending good vibes to you that will be felt even in the absence of mobile phone connectivity and/or government pique.

  3. A daily pleasure to follow the ride and read the blog