China # 5 – Along the Taklamakan Desert’s Northern Silk Road – September 2014

May 25, 2018

OK, so we can almost cross the Taklamakan Desert off our China Bucket List; amazing but thanks to the paved oil exploration road, not so bad. Given that without the road it would have lived up to its reputation, “The Sea of Death”.

We had to make a “few” miles every day because we still had lots to see in the next 21 days – 4,000 miles. Unfortunately, our route demanded that we stay on main highways, but in Korla we veered off on an interesting secondary road. It was certainly a slower pace and we had to constantly be aware of pedestrians and other drivers, both of whom operate with blinders on.

The Fat Man Noodle Restaurant

Green insisted that we stop at the Fat Man Noodle restaurant. Great idea! Green knew her Chinese food. Apparently, many towns are famous for something.

This is the proud owner of the Fat Man Restaurant in Kumux, southwest of Turpan.

This is the proud owner of the Fat Man Restaurant in Kumux, southwest of Turpan.

Taking a loop into the desert, we visited an old Uyghur village and the Jiache Ruins before continuing on to the larger ancient oasis of Goachang. This was a busy trading center and stopping point for merchant traders traveling on the Silk Road starting in the 1st century BC. It was destroyed in wars during the 14th century, but many ruins of this impressive and large city including the old palace can still be seen today. The standing walls and structures, now over 2,000 years old, were quite amazing. Bricks were apparently not used back then. The building technique was handfuls or buckets of mud one layer at a time and patted in place or formed into huge blocks. There are 77 known caves nearby that still have murals and tombs where nobles, officials, and others were interred.

Trouble in the Rear

Arriving in nearby Turpan early evening, there was no place to set up Green’s tent, so we found a cute hotel with a big parking area where we could relax and she could sleep and clean up. It was here that we discovered a major problem. The camper had been listing to the passenger side even though the Hellwig airbags were holding their 40 pounds of air pressure. Closer inspection showed that the shroud of the camper body was actually coming down and touching the airbag. The temporary solution was to take my Ingersoll-Rand air-powered reciprocal saw and grinder powered by our twin ExtremeAir Velocity compressors which feed our Viair 2.5-gallon aluminum reserve air tank to 125 psi. and trim the inner camper shroud off so that it no longer touched the airbag on bumps. Having the right tools for emergency repairs on a long overland trip can save the day. This was not the ultimate solution and we would not find out the real problem for several weeks.


3 Responses to “China # 5 – Along the Taklamakan Desert’s Northern Silk Road – September 2014”

  1. Your pictures, as always, are amazing. In the one picture it looks as if Gary is using the one chop stick to kill something in the bowl before starting to eat. Yes, the food looks great but the land looks harsh. The children as in so many of your pictures, look wonderful. Thanks for sharing, Ted

  2. Airbag, I kept thinking this was a tire. I am glad you explain. I would like to know more about the dwelling made of fiber, that looks like straw.

  3. The reed mat dwellings could have been temporary housing, storage or part of the green houses. We “flew” by there….

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