Having arrived a day early and not endured any hotel moves it felt like I had a really long time in Ruoqiang. It was a town I instantly liked for it's friendliness, warm air that smelt of charcoal and meat, and attitude to chilling beer. Walking round in flip-flops and my remaining pair of trousers rolled up, whilst smelling of suncream, tingled my holiday senses. A visit to a museum containing bad taxidermy, the sounds of a language I can't comprehend and presence of plastic garden furniture ticked the final boxes - it's holiday time.
Time itself is also exotic, we're officially on Beijing time here but really we're two to three hours behind, going for breakfast at 9.40 made me one of the few active people in the city centre.
With the final stretch ahead of me including a big three days of desert hell I spent the time piling on the protein. By the end of my 48 hours of eating I'd consumed over 24 kebab skewers of lamb.
My illiteracy proved good for my diet, by enforcing five skewers of liver and two of testicles upon me, thus varying my protein sources in ways I would not have deliberately chosen to do so.
Amongst the fun and relaxing there was a reminder of just how on edge the authorities are here. As I strolled around yesterday evening, what appeared to be a minor situation near the restaurant I visited the night before was met with armed police, some of whom had weapons drawn. The road was closed to traffic at both ends of the street, again by police with guns drawn.
Yet no one seemed bothered, people of all backgrounds chatted and watched the events unfold as if this was a perfectly reasonable response to a minor crime. The older men couldn't be drawn from their mahjong game and the teenagers continued with their game of pool, only following events when it wasn't their shot. It was all over in a few minutes but an army-green military riot tank-thing still did a tour of the town afterwards, presumably for the sake of reminding everyone the town still had one.
Running Totals - week 6.5
Average Speed: 13.1 KPH
Pot Noodles: 50
This is where I update on my progress. Expect lots of fabricated statistics and dated music references.