This is a vast province in the north-west of China. Huge distances between towns, and long stretches with no people at all. A bit tough at times, but there are some lovely new expressways being built, and with super-smooth roads, I covered some record distances. It used to be a lot of Uighur people here, and various other minorities – but they are rapidly being outnumbered by the Han Chinese. Hopefully some of the last desert stretches for me.

The 312 is the road I will follow at least until Xian – it runs for over 4800km from Shanghai to Korgas. Expressways are being built, but they’re not all complete yet – sometimes when they’re half-finished, I get to ride on stretches with no traffic.

4808km road marker Roadworks in progress Sayram Lake

Now I may not be able to read Chinese, but I know what 31km of downhill looks like! Actually turned out to be around 45km of smooth downhill – glorious after the struggle uphill

31km downhill Down the valley

My map said there was a large town – it turned out to be two service stations. Turned out another cyclist had stopped here a couple of years ago, and written something in their book – I added my entry. Photos with the staff were then wanted. Very nice.

Photo with service station staff

Some big vast open spaces – shots from the road.

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You too can look like this after 3 days in the desert

Topless photo

A few Urumqi shots – got a couple of cables replaced at a bike shop – only $1.30. They wanted to take photos of my Rohloff hub, they hadn’t seen one before – good mechanics there. The night market was a good place to eat, and hang out.

Urumqi St Urumqi Bike Mechanic Urumqi Night Market Urumqi Night MarketI did a daytrip from Urumqi to the “Geographical Centre of Asia” – conveniently only 35km away.

Centre of Asia

More shots from the road between Urumqi and Hami

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A big marker – Only 4000km on the 312 to Shanghai!

4000km marker

I stopped at a nothing town, in the middle of nowhere, thousands of kilometres from the ocean…and picked up a New Zealand milk drink.

New Zealand Clabber drink

More shots from the road. Absolutely no idea what the concrete kangaroos and giraffes were all about.

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Concrete Kangaroos

One of the nice things is if you need minor repairs and the like done – this lady is sewing up a huge rip in my silk sleeping bag liner. Cost: less than $0.50

Minor Repairs