Rouqiang (Charklik), 29.5.2017, 2523 km
After 9 almost perfect riding days it will become tough now.
On Saturday May 27th I had so strong tailwind that it blew me 150 km with an average of 30 km/h into the town of Qiemo (Cherchen, Qarqan), which I already reached at 13:00. As I still felt good and had a long quiet afternoon I didn't make rest day but continued on Sunday for another very long stage. 45 km after Qiemo there was still oasis and some dwellings, then the desert started, mostly sandy and with little hills. I had beneficial wind and reached after 198 km the intended only town after Qiemo and was looking forward to having a nice shower and dinner. When asking the inevitable police about a hotel (binguan) they told me that there is one at the other side of the street but that it has no license to host foreigners which is a general problem here in China. But I think with some good will it is possible to circumvent this missing permission, at least 3 days ago I slept in a similar little town in a hotel which I am quite sure had also no permission to host foreigners but there the police helped me and then it was no problem.
They told me I had to proceed to the next bigger town Ruoqiang, 80 km away. As I said that I am tired and would stay they even offered a free lift by car. With a heavy heart I decided I would have a dinner and then would go on for some more km and pitch my tent. Unfortunately immediately after the town a completely flat and empty stretch of desert without any protection began. Finally after 20 more km I spotted a little bush and pitched my tent. The sand was so soft that I couldn't fix the tent pegs properly. Later some wind come up and the whole little tent was shaking. One reason why I don't like camping in the desert. Another is that I had to lay down for sleeping without being able to wash away the mixture of sweat, salt, dust and sun cream on my skin.
The next morning started without wind but soon a strong wind from east came up and without any protection in the still empty and flat desert my speed was reduced to 11km/h. Till noon I finished the missing 60 km to Rouqiang and checked into a nice hotel. Considering the today heavy wind the additional 20 km in the evening before were not bad.
But at least for the next 2 days the weather forecast predicts wind from east, i.e. headwinds for me. In combination with very far or unknown distances between the points for supplies this is not a nice perspective.