Monday 23 June 2014
Sat 21 June 2014: Minfeng to Hotan
But it’s summer, with a grey, overcast sky and a cool breeze after a big storm last night. One town had a flooded street. The highway is elevated about a metre above the surrounding plains, but the avenue poplars were standing in water alongside. Eventually all traffic stopped. People had left their cars and were wandering in the desert (prospecting for jade?), and some cars were a couple of hundred metres away from the road. Hundreds of cars, trucks and buses were held up in each direction as heavy machines pushed half a metre of mud off the road. Time to try out the off-roader -- a bit of Paris-Dakkar. The Toyota’s 4WD got us through the greasy former waterways, but several adventurous drivers were sunk. The classic cars, further back, claim to have negotiated the desert. These claims are unconfirmed by photographic evidence, though will no doubt be trumpeted in the corporate media. Chinese truck drivers are very skilful, but impatient. If you want a break in traffic to get back on the road, follow one of them.