Leaving Urumqi.

It’s the little things that make this trip exciting. Not only have I managed to obtain a ticket but I have negotiated my way across the City to the train station, passed through two security checks, had my ticket inspected three times and am now in my four seater compartment on train number K596, coach ten, seat number eleven. We leave Urumqi at eleven twenty five and arrive in Turpan at one twenty five, the distance is two hundred kilometers. I am just a little thrilled as we will skirt the Taklamakan desert on our way to one of the Silk Road’s legendary cities. Ancient forts, towering mountains and narrow passes await. I have to say though, it has not all been plane sailing.

      Yesterday I tried negotiating this trip with the hotel staff and after much gesticulating, phone calls and scribbling in Chinese I think the total cost came out at one thousand eight hundred Dollars, this for two nights in a hotel, transfers and a train ride. No, no, I said, this is out of my price range and promptly got a bit depressed. The hotel resembled an armed camp. Two truck loads of armed military were on duty at all times, surrounding the entrance and parking lot. Not only that but there was a twenty member SWAT team, complete with camo’ uniforms on duty within the hotel itself, plus dogs and hulking gentlemen with wires in their ears. I felt inclined to leave ASAP because at that price I could fly to Hong Kong and forget the whole adventure. Despairing somewhat I texted back home and soothing words came back, reminding me that I have contacts here. Yes I do!  I have a friend who has a daughter who has a friend who runs a travel agency in Beijing who has a friend who runs a trans China travel agency. We had exchanged emails back in May and she said to call if I needed help and I did. One call and the price plummeted considerably, tickets and hotels are booked, transfers are organized, tours of ancient ruins are planned, even food is scheduled. In fact it took most of the day on the phone and the computer but here I am, in my seat, pulling out of Urumqi into the desert.  Plan A is on track, as it were (sorry).
     Clearly I was misled about the great firewall, everything seems to be working, so far.
     Sorry this is a little brief but wanted everyone to know that I have moved on from the big city to more rural scenes, it is much better. For the first time on this trip I have a guide tomorrow. I am a little nervous about this as I tend to go my own way but if she can get me to places where I couldn’t get to by myself then so be it.
I’ll let you know how it goes plus some photos!
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8 responses to “Leaving Urumqi.

  1. Well done John Mitch for having a daughter married to a Chinese!! Is Laura back in China? The trip sounded a bit hairy but hope the train is comfortable.
    Looking forward to photos from the next destination
    Mother

  2. Onward my brave friend. Am happy to be along to enjoy this journey.

    • Thanks Prudence, sometimes I feel brave, and sometimes I don’t
      Last night on the overnight train I saw eggs in the restaurant car kitchen, so mimed making an omelet.
      It worked, I got an omelet, but oh the ridicule!

  3. We must never forget the importance of contacts!! So glad you managed to wriggle out of paying $1000+ for a ticket – phew. Looking forward to further Tales of a Travelling Tim (and lots of photos!). Take care.

  4. We must never forget the importance of contacts!! So glad you managed to wriggle out of paying $1000+ for a ticket – phew. Looking forward to further Tales of a Travelling Tim (and lots of photos!). Take care.

    • I know, strange isn’t it, but this contact got me out of a tight spot.
      More tales and photos to come.
      I am currently watching the sunset over the Taklamakan Desert sand dunes and mighty spectacular it is too.
      They are the size of mountains.

  5. Not what you know but who you know, comes to mind. Hotel sounded horrendous. Glad you are out of it, now! Must get the Atlas out. Stay safe. x

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