Photo of the Day - Don't worry the camel photos are coming up
Day fifty two.
Having decided to take the harder, shorter route to Hotan I waved goodbye to Ken Doherty and friends and headed west through what presumably counts as Qira's suburbs. Quaint farms and small holdings foreshadowed orchards and huge trees provided a shade that wasn't quite required yet. After about 15KM I was back in the desert, only this time I got to see some live camels up close. A mother and calf were on one side of the road and another, particularly stupid looking, camel was on my side.
After the tedium of another small town police check point, where I'm sure the opportunity to look at a different passport is the main appeal of pulling me over, I passed through more beautiful farm land and the by then required shade of the tree lined roads.
From the town of Lop onwards the roads became much busier, I really like the modifications made to tuk-tuks in this part of the world. When I return to Beijing, I may look into putting a carpeted and tasselled roof on my own tuk-tuk.
The run into Hotan central is lined with painted China flags on every lamppost, in case you forgot where you were, which is very easy to do. I'm now much closer to Islamabad, Kabul, Tehran and even Baghdad than Beijing.
I'm staying at one of the hotels that has black Range Rovers with personalised (as much as you can with numbers) plates. This is good in terms of pillow quality; but for the first time my cyclist status has relegated me to locking my bike up by the bins, presumably so as not to tarnish the high regard the Range Rover drivers have of themselves.
As part of this pretension and in a nod to this being a troubled region there was also a scanner and body search to pass through in the hotel reception. This sounds obtrusive but the security processes of China are often laughable. I walked in, declared I had a knife, got my knife out and continued to hold it out in the open, whilst the scanner beeped and the guard's own detector beeped over each of my bags. He looked in none of them, before looking at my knife like he was Crocodile Dundee's more relaxed Chinese cousin.
I know there's an element of profiling to even pathetic security checks but I was holding a knife and everything else was beeping.
Just going through the motions.
That said, I once found myself in the hotel where all the many and various Syrian rebel groups that Qatar was funding had been brought together and despite a far more thorough security check and frisk there, everyone was wandering around with swords and daggers on show.
May 28: Qira to Hotan - 90KM
Start Time: 09.00
Finish Time: 15.00
Hours Cycling: 6
Camels: 5 (0 dead)
A Photo every hour: today's highlight - You're in China ok!
This is where I update on my progress. Expect lots of fabricated statistics and dated music references.