Day 2. Goodbye, China! Hello, Central Asia!

World Record Run: Shanghai to Venice (August 19th to August 24th)
Fergana / Uzbekistan

Having driven in the Western China, we put up with regular on-route police checks, as well as the fact that our documents were checked even at the entrance to a petrol station. However, a great four-lane highway allowed us to move in good pace, so at 08.00 pm we passed Urumqi, turning the road to Kashgar and the border with Kyrgyzstan. As we had minimal stops during the journey, we arrived to the first Chinese border crossing point at dawn, around 07.30 am. We were in such a hurry that arrived 2.5 hours before its opening time. Well, that was even better as we were able to clean up the mess in the car and prepare ourselves for all the checks. However, having got our documents reviewed, we were stuck at the first point for almost 4 hours due to a fault of just one person. It turned out that the head of the local customs, who had to sign all the documents, wasn’t at work on time in the Monday morning. Moreover it wasn’t allowed to anyone to bother him at that time. He was having a rest at his home in Kashgar, while another 20 people, except for us, were waiting for him! Almost two dozen nationals of different countries were stuck at the border as the head recklessly disregarded his duties, right as in Soviet days! And it was only due to the efforts of our guide, Mr. Wang, and his team, that we managed to reach this fellow and force him to come to his workplace. But all of these delays took 2 hours, which could result in ruining the whole schedule! Eventually, we were late and arrived at lunchtime, when the Chinese border guards closed the second border crossing point for vehicles. But again, Mr. Wang by some miracle managed to persuade them to let us pass. Alas, we were not even able to properly say goodbye to him because of the rush! In such a way, we said a harried goodbye to China.

Shame we had to hurry! You should have seen what amazing places we were driving along! The road was just fantastic: we saw the mountains of completely different shapes and colors, from lifeless grey stone blocks and to Alpine meadows or even the snow caps covering the majestic Pamir! It really captured our spirit! The height of the passes came up to 3,700 m there!

In contrast to the Chinese border, we have passed the Kyrgyz border very quickly, in 6 minutes! Many thanks to the border guards for their understanding and sense of urgency! Moreover, here, near the passing point, a local guide accompanied by a police escort waited for us. Now we had the race or, well, chase, along the serpentine. Just like in Hollywood action movies! A traffic police car equipped with audible horn and flashing lights was rushing ahead of us, clearing the road, while we were following it. I can’t believe we crossed all Kyrgyzstan from China to Uzbekistan in 2.5 hours!

Having thanked the police, border guards and our Kyrgyz guide, we went further, to Uzbekistan. An aggressive pace in Kyrgyzstan allowed our crew to basically redeem the time lost on the Chinese border. We were back in the game! The world record was under threat, but we were keeping the schedule. The crossing of the Uzbek border appeared to be not as rapid as the crossing of the Kyrgyz border, but it was also good: it took 40 minutes in total. Again, a guide waited for us on the other side of the crossing point. He led us through Uzbekistan. Apart from being a guide, he also provided petrol to us: as we previously told, Uzbekistan is suffering a real fuel crisis. Petrol is privately sold in 1.5 L bottle. There are huge queues at the petrol stations. The only thing left for the locals is to install natural gas equipment in their cars.

In our journey, we are using the latest version of Silkroad Edition cards from Raise Know-How. The maps and navigation were working correctly, while the road to the Turkmen border had not improved while we were away. That is why a night rush to the border was a real test for our drivers and, of course, for our Volkswagen Tiguan. And another reason to be happy with our decision to install Eibach springs on

the car: they did not only allow us to feel much safer, but also enabled to keep a high pace at this part of a journey with an unpredictable surface. So far, everything and everybody has excellently coped with the task. It is worth noting that today’s drive and the tomorrow’s trip across Turkmenistan, as well as crossing of the border with Iran will be crucial for the world record. Stay tuned!


Author: Dmitry Makarov, Peter Bakanov