After the late lunch we went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage for the night and then we were off to the desert. The Taklamakan desert awaited us, one of the highlights of our trip. Or at least we hoped it was going to be that because highlights have a tendency to disappoint. I noticed that in Brazil the first time.
After an hour drive we parked somewhere next to the road and therefore the Taklamakan desert and soon after the camels arrived also on the road. The Taklamakan is right next to the road and to keep the road clear along the way trees and reed were planted.
Everything was packed on the camels including us and we rode into the sunset. Ha, so not true, the sun didn’t set for another couple of hours but off we rode. The riding part should have lasted for at least a while but due to the beating of the animals by our camel herder the ride was cut short and after 45 minutes we had arrived at our tent side (meaning somewhere flat enough to set up the tents).
I was expecting a camp site with a cooking tent and maybe a bathroom and got severely disappointed. This was definitely not Morocco, this was China where you have to do everything on your own. We built our individual tents and I got some flea infested camel blankets to keep warm at night since I had only brought my inline sleeping bag.
Dinner consisted of one kepab for me (again mutton) and bread and jam for the others (that’s life here for vegetarians). Even though we informed the agency before about our different dietary requests but Patty couldn’t care less. Dinner was definitely a painful affair for Babsi who has high culinary vegan standards as we all know by now.
We passed the time by letting Sylvia show us her superb golfing technique and drinking endless cups of tea which had the added benefit of getting to know all sad dunes in the vicinity. Since the sky was still overcast from the storm two days ago there was not much happening in the star department when it finally got darker around 10pm. With star gazing out of the question we retired to our tents and tried to fall asleep. Did I already mention that I really hate camping?
The night was cold and with the two blankets and my thin sleeping bag I was not happy. I had brought leggings, my beanie, and thick woolen socks and still I couldn’t get sufficiently warm to really enjoy the night in the desert (let’s be honest nothing could have helped here). Waking up around 3am I answered nature’s call and almost got lost on the way back. No moon and no stars were lightening the way and with the lamp from my cell I made everything worse by basically blinding myself. After considering to scream for help I decided on switching off the light and checking my position. I eventually found my way back once my eyes adjusted to the dark and I could make out the tents. They had been just to my right all along.
In the morning it was still cool although the sun was already up, again hidden behind a hazy layer of clouds. The storm was still in the air and not a chance for a sunrise. So great then that we got up only around 7:30. There was really no point in getting up early. So at least Patty had already started the campfire and cut the bread. This morning we had toast with the spurned jam from last night and more tea, actually quite good even though it doesn’t sound like much, especially with the freshly roasted bread.
After a last visit behind a sand dune we packed our stuff, heaved ourselves on the camels and rode back to the car. There would be another long day on the road for us. But first we had to see the things we had missed on our arrival day. Yours, Pollybert