Kashgar (China), 21.06.2013
We would have loved to tell you about this city, that is so different then the previous we have seen. But we ended up seeing very little of it. Waking up this morning costed a lot of energy, our stomachs hurt and we felt both a strong fatigue. At 09:00 we went for breakfast in the old Russian consulate to Kashgar of the 19th century. The building was a surprise in our shabby hotel’s courtyard. High ceilings with wooden decorations, a huge wall painting in what today is a big dining room and plenty of wall decorations in every room. Unfortunately there was no breakfast. It was 11:00 Beijing time, and not 09:00 unofficial Uighur time. Snickers and green tea had to do. Checking the car we found it had not recovered from yesterday’s problems and still showed error messages and ran on reduced power. So we started to find a solution, looking for a garage in town that could help. At the business center of our hotel we found a friendly man that helped, Abdul Wabab. He runs a travel agency and organizes tours in Xinjiang, China’s far west. With a few phone calls he found a dependence of the Land Rover dealer in Urumqi, 1500km from here and the closes one in China.
We went for lunch quickly, since Abdul had some customers coming in. A nearby restaurant served two delicious hot noodle soups and tea for 12 yuan (€1,47). As we returned, Abdul told us to go see this “guy that can help”. Together with us he drove first to one place, then a bit further down the road where we met “the guy that can help”, then even further to the guy’s workshop. Once the Evoque was inside we didn’t even have the time to tell our complete story when a young mechanic already opened the hood, connected his laptop to the car, checked the error message and started working on the engine. Abdul translated, and several mechanics checked car, engine, ignition, filters at high speed. In parallel a Range Rover Supercharged and a Freelander came in and got fixed. The speed and focus in this team was incredible. Within half an hour we had the diesel filter changed, air filter cleaned, car scanned and they started taking the exhaust off to clean the problematic filter that had been giving us error messages for two weeks now. Clouds of black diesel particles were blown out. Still no change. In a moment when the car was not raised to work on it from below I took the broken tyre from the roof. It had a hole on one of the thicker parts, no clue how that could have happened. I showed the tyre to “the guy that can help” and while he was coordinating the next steps on our car and the next one he called another guy that disappeared with our tyre on the back of his truck.
Time went by, the guys performed all kinds of computerised checks, tested the engine. We even drove half an hour through the neighbourhood No improvement. We were getting to a dead end, the guys didn’t know what else to do to get the Evoque back to full power. With another guy I went to drive for an hour and a half to see if we could regenerate the problematic filter. Also no improvement. The guys were really disappointed they could not fix the car. Back at the workshop Abdul was also there again, he had left for a while to go to prayer on Friday. We packed the car and asked how much we had to pay. 30 yuan for the tyre. We protested and wanted to pay for the two guys day of work, but they refused. Since they couldn’t fix the car they accepted no money.
Abdul at this point suggested we invite them to dinner, and so we did. Close to our hotel was one of the best restaurants in town according to multiple sources, the Altun Orda Uighur restaurant. We were quite a mixed group, Abdul the Uighur, the two Chinese guys from the workshop and us two tourists. Abdul had to translate. The two Chinese guys seemed to not feel at home in the Uighur place. But we all enjoyed the delicious food. Lagman for everybody, an eggplant dish, rice with raisins and lamb, yogurt, and as dessert sweet dumplings with nuts and raisins. We drank cardamom tea with honey. The restaurant was lavishly decorated and service very quick and friendly. What a great dinner! We found out our two Chinese mechanics were Feng Jun Lin and Li Hong Wei, 25 and 28 years old and from Urumqi. They were very friendly, but spoke absolutely no English. Only Feng knew a couple of words, still more then we know of Chinese. They were preparing the garage where we had spent the day to become an official Land Rover dealer, an outlet of the one in Urumqi. Abdul also told us about his life, his work at Doctors Without Borders, Uighur life in Xinjiang. A very fine person.
We all said farewell and we started preparing tomorrow’s challenge: driving up the Karakoram Highway into Pakistan with a car at half power and fully loaded with us, our equipment and the guide. We will be offline for a week, and without our sat phone until the border. We are crossing not just our fingers but everything we can find. Let’s see if we will make it to Delhi.
No trip data for the day