News item

Urumqi - by Jules Frints

Urumqi, September 14, 2016

We woke up in Kuitun with an extensive breakfast, and left on our way to Urumqi. First things first, we had to get new diesel for our vans. We went to the gas station, where the passengers had to get out of the cars and our guide had to open the barrier gate with his identity card. While we were filling up our vehicles, a police car arrived. And then one more, and another one. At the same time, our first vans started to leave the gas station and waited for the rest. The street started to get clogged with STORM vans and Chinese police cars. The policemen gathered around our motorcycle, and talked to team members and our guides.

What was the problem? Apparently, the Chinese authorities noticed that our guide used his identity card seven times to enter the gas station. Because this was unusual, they sent some police. Which apparently translates into sending one police car per STORM van. It took quite some time to convince the policemen we could go again, they had to wait for their commander to talk for us, but eventually we were free to go again.

After the event at the gas station, we drove on over the Chinese highway. Although we expected to have many police stops, there was only one, which we easily passed.

In Urumqi, we originally had a nice hotel planned somewhere in the city. There would be a great workplace as well, so that we had the opportunity for major maintenance. After all, we had two nights in Urumqi. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay there anymore. The large international summit in the city was relocated to the building next to our sleeping location. No foreigners were allowed in the city center anymore, and there were no alternatives to sleep within the city. Therefore, we had to move to a location a bit outside the town. This was a large resort, where rich people could buy a large villa for their vacation. That is, in the future – now it was unfinished, except for the reception, where we could use Wi-Fi and the toilets. We could sleep in the construction shed, although the beds had to be out before 10 o' clock in the morning because the workers then had their breakfast there. A garage box became our workplace, after three Chinese workers cleaned it from dust. Battery charging was located in one of the empty, dusty villas. We dined in front of the pool, our view being the sunset in front of a park of empty villas.

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