Sunday 2nd May. After an emotional farewell to Peng, we set off from Hami on the next stage of the journey, leading Zorbee as the truck is full of straw. It is proving a bit of a learning curve for Niyaz, particularly due to the communication problem, but his local knowledge is turning out useful. After being confronted by police almost immediately we reached our first stop Erpu, the horses ended up being hosted courtesy of the police once more, a warm welcome being ensured when a Uighur police friend of Niyaz turned up on the scene. However the disconsolate scene below was caused when we discovered our early start the following morning had been foiled
- we were locked out of Police premises.
Rowena eventually managed to squeeze through the side gate to feed the horses and someone arrived soon after with the key.
We are still riding through oases, but also across stretches of intervening desert. We have passed Sanpu, where the Trio stayed, as Niyaz has found lodgings a little further on at Luxuan with a Kazakh family.
On arrival we had a welcome bowl of milk tea on a kang in one of the main living rooms – served with stale bread which is dipped in to soften it. Here is Niyaz in his element relaxing with the Kazakh patriarch and his two composed little twin grandsons …
…before taking Rowena off to catch the train in Hami – she is flying home tomorrow from Urumqi. I was taken off to another large room almost entirely filled with a carpeted platform on which we sat and ate delicious jiaozi dumplings. Then came an inspection by a train of curious lady visitors – here they are poring over my photo album.