So far in China we hadn't driven far since the border. Now that we were all declared legal on the Chinese road, we were ready to tear some asphalt and drove 500 km from Yining to Kuitun.
In between we made a stop for lunch at the Sayram lake. A small group was brave enough to get in their swimming suits and take a dive. The guide was looking at us and shaking his head in disbelieve, while the other locals were pointing at us and laughing. The water was indeed cold as ice, so after a quick dip the pool party was over. Changing was of course even more hilarious to the locals because most of them had never seen such big white willies before. We are pretty sure one of them took pictures of Nick and was replaying them and zooming in with his friend.
After a few near death experiences whilst crossing the highway between the lake and the nomad village we had some time to go horseback riding. This was fun for me, a dream for Michelle and more of a challenge for Edgar. My horse would nicely step along and Michelle was gracefully galloping across the hills, while Edgars horse had stopped dead and refused to take another step. Still, with some help, even Edgar made it back in time for lunch in the traditional Yurt. Lunch was delicious, but for Maartje, who does not handle spicy food well, it was a tricky situation.
During lunch we found out we could not stay at the previously planned hotel, which "unfortunately" meant we would have to stay and share some beds at one of the most fancy hotels in Kuitun. The lobby was beautiful and the rooms were amazing, but what impressed us most was the toilet. The ladies had a throne for a toilet, with massage option, preheated toilet seat and a control panel with at least 20 buttons. We were brave enough to try "rear wash", "lady wash" and "hot air" before we realized that the toilet was leaking water and decided to take it easy on the buttons.
Luckily the beds were fancy as well, because we shared two beds with the four STORM ladies and we needed to get our sleep for our travels to Urumqi the next day.