Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Not Everything Is As It Seems.

Not everything is as it seems in China.  Take for instance the toaster at the breakfast buffet.  It is a very fine stainless steel 6 or 8 slice machine.  Now in most places one would put the slices of bread into the slots, but not here.  Here the slices of bread are placed on top of the slots like a grill and the heating element cranked up full.  And of course the pieces of toast are flipped with chop sticks .  Sort of effective I suppose but hardly efficient - a bit of an allegory for the  Chinese bureaucracy we had already experienced at the border and would continue to suffer through over the next few days trying to secure our local driver licenses and motorcycle registrations.

First part of the morning was spent out at a garage in the next town.  Other than the Vehicle Identification Numbers being recorded not much else seemed to be accomplished over the few hours we were there.  On the ride over it became immediately obvious that a few of the newer model BMW motorcycles had not come out of the Pamirs unscathed.  Both the front and rear shocks of one bike had lost all fluid due to blown seals.  While it was going to be very bouncy riding down the road on just the springs the bike was ridable.  The same could not be same for the other mechanically challenged motorcycle.  The engine sounded like a single cylinder diesel and looked like one too with the blue smoke coming out the tail pipe.  After some cursory investigation it was decided best that the bike be shipped to Xian instead of ridden the remainder of the trip.  

The afternoon was spent at  the government vehicle inspection station where nothing obvious was accomplished and after a few hours other than confirming that our turn signal worked we all headed back to the hotel.  Before leaving for dinner we were informed that upon our return there would be an official lecture from a government official on driving safely on China.  Our drivers licenses and vehicle registrations were also to be delivered to the hotel that night.  2-hours after drinking heavily in the lobby waiting for our guest a most apologetic lovely young Chinese traffic policewoman showed up with her English speaking brother.  She supplied a copy of all the Chinese traffic laws and made sure we understood that in China they drive on the right and the maximum speed was 120 km/h.  And the driver licenses and vehicle registrations were nowhere to be seen so the new plan was to once again go to the government vehicle inspection station first thing in the morning. 

After spending the morning hanging out in a dirt parking lot nearby the regional police station where supposedly our paperwork was being completed it was decided to proceed without it and just see what happens.  So we did and nothing happened.  The riding over the next few days was hot and boring across the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts on 4-lane divided highway with only gas stops and police check points to break up the monotony.

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