The last few days have been quite eventful, but not in a way I would choose. At least the riding has more pleasant than I had feared as we have sometimes been able to ride along field edges.
The accident prone Shandan managed to get himself tangled in the tethering ropes while we were having supper on the first evening in Changji, and although he seemed none the worse at the time, a couple of days later it was evident he must have sustained a rope burn at the pack of his pastern as he was a bit lame after resting. The local vet treated and bandaged it, and we have instructions to carry on walking him. Valerie has swapped to Zorbee.
Put your right foot in! The Invisible Man marches in step with a newly bandaged Shandan.
On the next day's ride to Hutubi I discovered I had left my camera behind in our lodgings, and Valerie lost her expensive North Face jacket. Poor Peng was kept busy driving around to recover our belongings as Niyaz went helpless on us. The camera was recovered, but the jacket not. Then it took an age to find a hotel in Hutubi that would take us all - again the hapless Peng ended up sorting it out.
But before we had even managed to settle in, the Hutubi police descended on us and insisted that Valerie and I remove ourselves to a foreigners hotel. For the first time since we left Beijing, the ever diplomatic Peng brandishing our official certificate failed to dissuade them. Under different circumstances I might have been quite glad of a bit of luxury at police-negotiated cut rates, but it was very late, I still needed to go to hospital to have my stitches out, and due to my head washing ban that was still in force, I could not take full advantage of the wonderful power shower in the four star hotel we were marched off to.
However they did help out by taking me under police escort to Hutubi hospital - accompanied by the delightful Uighur police interpreter Mohamed, who visibly relaxed when we went quietly to our alternative accomodation. Perhaps a little too relaxed, as when I emerged from the surgery with another silly head bandage, he was a bit too quick to comment that I looked like a mushroom.
I thought the unflappable Peng seemed more distracted that he would normally be by all these frustrations, and it transpired that his father has taken a turn for the worse again, and he will have to return to Beijing, though he intends to stay with us until Kuytun if he can.
We are now staying in this Uighur restaurant somewhere beyond Manas. The Chinese characters advertise the culinary delights on offer such as sheep's head.