Our first chinese experience starts at breakfast. Jason, our Chinese guide has told us that the restaurant serves bread, eggs and porridge. Vely good bleakfast. We are looking forward to a nice continental sweet breakfast and sit down on one of the huge round tabels.
To our surprise the table is filled with small plates with steamed and sauteed vegetables and a cup of peanets. Then a plate with steamed breadbuns arrives and 3 hard boiled eggs. Have a nice bleakfast! Sauteed vegetables full of garlic and red spicy peppers is not the kind of breakfast we expected. Then the porridge arrives and elles looks relieved. The porridge appears to be extremely overcooked rice in water with zero taste. While elles tries to cope with the porridge, Michel is juggling with the boiled egg and the chines foodsticks. Mmmhhh chinese bleakfast.. gleat.. i hear michel murmeling.
We change our Pakistani money at the customs office at a very reasonable rate, get some petrol and have the Pirelli Tyres inflated a bit more as we now have a third person in the car. The tyres have done great so far as we never had a flat tyre (knock on wood) and even better, never had to inflate them!
Our car can fly as well!
Then we head towards the Karakul lake. We hope we can spent the night there as it¡¯s supposed to be a jewel. Well, it is a jewel but there is no tourist infrastucture yet. We don¡¯t mind to sleep at a locals place but Jason seems to have difficulties. So we opt to head to kashgar and skip a night at the lake. The road is perfect and most of it is brand new. The whole way down it feels like a rollercoaster ride. But then it happens.
The road looked perfect but has invisible bumps in it. As there is no other traffic we didn¡¯t see it coming. Suddenly we hit the first bump which rocks the complete car. Then it gets worse and the front wheels are lifted in the air. It¡¯s not only the wheels who are in the air but also our guide Jason is flying around in the back and is hit by some books. Only some soft breaking and hard steering keeps us on the road. We are all shocked when it¡¯s finally over. We stop and michel quickly checks the car. Fortunately, nothing is wrong with Hippie and again we are very happy with the extra shockabsorbers! Jason seems to be fine as well and we feel bad as this is his first driving experience in the bus! I am used to these kinds of roads he explains. Shit… and we have another 5000 to go!
The landscape we drive through changes every minute. The snowpeaks of the Pamir range, the steepest bit we drove on the whole Karakoram, the huge sanddunes, dark red gravel mountains, villages covered in autumn leaves and the long stretches of desert make this day the most diverse so far in terms of scenery.
On arrival in Kashgar we notice that also this city is build in a true typical chinese style. Very wide lanes make it easy to drive and the neon lights welcome us into the city. We find our way to the hotel rather quickly. Within no-time a crowd of Chinese gathers round the bus all looking and peeping through the window. One man gets so excited that he opens the door to have a look inside but with no harm in mind.
Our first chinese dining experience!
Elles and i head to a restaurant nearby and sit down to relax. Driving with a third person is something new and we have to get used to the idea of him wanting to help us. Don¡¯t get us wrong, he is very friendly and very much helpful. It¡¯s just new. Then the waitress arrives with a translated menu. Elles orders a small noodles with chicken and vegetables and as it is very cheap michel orders a large chicken with potatoe. We can use some food after our special chinese breakfast of this morning. Michel¡¯s food, we think, arrives quickly and together we enjoy the potatoes with chicken en noodles. Elles her meal doesn¡¯t seem to arrive and we are glad as we are already full of Michel¡¯s dish. Then the waitress arrives with the biggest plate we have ever seen. A dish of half a meter in diameter full of Chicken and potatoes swimming in garlic, green peppers etc. This appears to be michel¡¯s dish and the dish we ate was elles her meal.
The plate is so big that we count three full chickens and loads of potatoes. What to do… we are already full. We start anyway and michel tries the greenpepper. It appears to be an extremely spicy chilly!! Michel grabs for water en then tries to soften the burn with a tissue. At this stage i am pissing myself with laughter.
We kept eating and eating untill we nearly explode closely watched by a few very interested waitresses. We can imagine why they were staring as the amount could not even be finished by ten people.
We know there must have been a mistake somewhere and also know this could cost us a fortune. When we leave the table, the plate doesn¡¯t even looks touched, we feel rather ashamed. We quickly move to the counter to pay the bill.Yep elles here you go.. 305 yuan, which is ….. 38 dollars. We feel bad and grab three bills of a hundred and a fiver. Then the man behind the cashmachines laughes and points at our wallet. He wants another 50? We are confused but then we see he leaves the 305 on the counter and gives back 20???? We look at the calculator and finally get it. 30.5 yuan instead of 305. But no way… we have eaten for less then 4 dollars including all drinks! Now we are all laughing.
One thing is certain, China we love it!!!!