August 4th; 472km/377km; Tuquan, IM to Qingshan, IM to Huade,IM
An Actual Boring Day
I think today (the 4th) might have actually been our first real boring day. These roads through Inner Mongolia are really fantastic. Wide, well paved, empty, and enjoyable scenery. There doesn’t actually seem to be much of a distinction between expressways and provincial roads since everything is quite remote. This means that the “smaller” roads that motorcycles are allowed on are the same quality as expressways in other provinces.
The most exciting thing that happened today was that there seemed to be a lot of bees on the road. We stopped at one gas station for a break and encountered several extremely aggressive bees that just wouldn’t let us be (no pun intended). We went through one toll booth too where there seemed to be a huge swarm. Luckily bikes don’t have to stop at the tolls though!
The next day the good luck with the roads continued. Despite a late start as we spent most of the morning in a China Unicom shop trying to figure out how I had chewed through 1.3GB of data in the first 4 days of the month (seems there were some processes going on in the background even while I slept. Stupid apps), we still managed to make some good progress.
Break from the Roaches
The hotel we stayed at in Qingshan turned out to be infested with roaches so we decided that that night we wanted to try camping. The area seemed perfect for it as there was lots of empty space between towns and the highway had frequent smaller roads coming off of it towards smaller villages and farm lands, perfect for camping.
So after a full day of riding we aimed for a town/city where we could pick up some food supplies before finding a road to pull off on. After about another 20 minutes out of the city, Huade, which seemed to be a new town set up for a nearby factory and wind power generation plant, we found a nice dirt road that seemed to lead to some nice camping areas. The road led us right up to a tiny village (tiny even by non-Chinese standards with maybe half a dozen small homes) with a tree grove not far off.
Setting Up Camp
There was a truck selling some fruit and a family looking at the produce on the side of the road who we asked about camping. They told us that no one owned the land and it wouldnt’ be a problem. So with that we started setting up.
The family (a young mom, two kids, a 7 year old girl and her 13 year old brother, and the grandmother) stuck around as we setup, curious about what we were doing. They were very nice and even offered for us to stay with them in their house in the village in case it rained that night. There were some rain clouds in the distance but we told them that we should be ok in our tent.
And Then Came the Rain
For a while it looked like the rain was going to hold off. We were able to cook dinner without getting wet but moved into the tent to eat as it started drizzling. As we started getting to bed just after dark, there was some more light rain but nothing too serious aside from some lightening and quite aggressive thunder. Our luck did not last however as by about 9:30 or 10 the rain hit hard and did not let up.
We both had a hard time falling asleep and soon we noticed that a massive puddle had formed underneath the tent. Pushing on the floor of the tent it felt like we were on a waterbed. I looked out in the vestibule of the tent and noticed that it seemed a stream had formed around us and under us as there was even a current going past! Soon the water had overtaken the edges of the tent base and we had the current actually going through the tent in some places.
When the rain finally let up, we decided to move the tent just in case the rain came back. Everything was completely soaked as we surveyed the damage. Worse yet, as we got out and looked around, it seemed we were in 1 of 2 places in the entire tree grove where there was any flooding. The other was a footpath leading from the main road. Anywhere else had we setup and we’d still be dry.
After moving, we tiredly and begrudgingly got back into our wet tent and sleeping bags (Amy’s noticeably drier than mine) and finally tried to get some sleep for the night.
What do you think so far?
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