|Drive to Erlian, Inner Mongolia, China||Week 17 14th - 16th August 2011|
| We passed at least three Great Wall sites. Badaling is the
well known one. This one is a bit further along.
There are quite a few people on the wall, and the umbrellas of souvenir sellers visible.
The wall is also rebuilt on this stretch.
We didn't stop.
| We were headed West from Beijing, with the granite
mountains forming a barrier to the North.
We gradually turned North West through what we think is the edge of the Loess Plateau.
That strange pillar is indeed strange. Too square to be a remnant of the wall perhaps though we are aware there's a shortage of stone in this area.
| It rained and the road was wall to wall trucks.
We are driving along the emergency lane. We figured that if the bus in front could squeeze through then so could we.
The truck drivers are disciplined enough to stay in the normal two carriageways.
We are on expressway. Off to the right is the national road. Both are full of trucks in both directions.
It really required a lot of concentration when moving and patience when stopped. Longest wait was about a half hour for roadworks and about 15 minutes for the toll gate.
The truckies were a good humoured lot. Laughed when we asked how long we were stopped for.
Last year some trucks were stationary for 2 days.
We covered a bit more than 300 km in about 6 hours. But mentally drained.
| We spent the night at Jining. A bit more expressway, less
traffic, and we were headed North towards the Mongolian border.
We missed Datong from the itinerary as we (correctly) were concerned about the expressway traffic.
We'd rather be a day earlier at the border than two days late.
The last 300 km is in Inner Mongolia. Not far from the road was this very Australian looking irrigation system.
|Houses have become lower, with straight roofs. Plus walled gardens.|
|And where does all the power go?|
|Some older looking mud brick houses.|
|Grassland, signs of drifting sand, and herds of sheep, cattle, goats and horses.|
| A couple of small towns.
And a couple of industrial plants like this one.
I didn't recognise the footprint. The signs mentioned carbon.
| Nice to see a wind farm.
Ali lost count after several hundred turbines.
We are also beginning to lose the rain and see a bit of sunshine.
The pollution is also clearing for us, but still noticeably hazy.
| There's a single house out there somewhere.
We are wondering how different Inner Mongolia is from Mongolia Country.
|After a few hours tootling along at a leisurely 80 km/h we
sighted Erlian. The Chinese border town.
Just about central are two concrete dinosaurs.
We drove under them.
They had the most amused expressions and looked like they were having a quick kiss.
I guess even dinosaurs had to mate, though the mind tends towards being boggled at the thought.
There were also dinosaur sculptures alongside the road after the arch. Apparently there have been fossil finds, including dinosaur eggs.
|We filled up with diesel.
This was the 4th fuel station we tried. The others had run out.
We filled up our one empty tank with the more expensive "cold weather" diesel. We'll use the warm weather stuff in the other tank first.
We'd already seen a combine harvester (without blades) being transported North on the back of a truck.
This one turned up at our fuel station.
Presumably there's some grain to be harvested somewhere, but we haven't seen it yet.
We also filled up with water.
Turned out to be easier to fill the bucket from the oversize hose and pump from there into the tanks.
A bit of a misunderstanding with the pump lady. We were almost full when she got stroppy and wanted her hose back.
We'll complete filling tomorrow morning from the hotel.
We did figure out why there were no outside stand pipes visible anywhere.
It gets cold and they would freeze.
|Erlian is relatively new and tidy. Lots of building going
Its our first sign that things are changing. The shops have Chinese characters and Cyrillic Script.
We've had Susanna to translate the Chinese. Tomorrow we will have to work the Cyrillic characters out for ourselves.
|We parked outside a shopping mall with supermarket.
The entrance was unrecognisable to us but once inside it was a normal supermarket - complete with queues for the checkout.
Blue skies. The temperature reached about 32 deg C, a bit warm after yesterday's 23.
Tomorrow is Mongolia. Internet access for uploading blog will change.
Today we downloaded an Oziexplorer digital copy of our Mongolia map (thanks Miles). Also tested our Russian maps in the Igo8 gps.
There's nothing left to do apart from say goodbye to China and hello to Mongolia.
|Summary of 9 Weeks in China||Week 17 17th August 2011|