So we tried to bush camp in an unused field by a lake tonight. We were all looking forward to pitching our tents in the light so we could survey the damage from the sandstorm.
Then it all went wrong. The local bad boys turned up and wanted to charge for camping rights. A principle of our bush camps is that we don’t pay. So we turned the truck around to leave. Then the locals parked their battered VW across the exit and demanded an exit fee. Only about £20 but that can soon escalate if you agree. Much heated argument followed between them and our guide. In the end we called the cops to resolve it. We considered moving their car by hand but this is dodgy ground especially when you need to camp somewhere and the local and his mates could all come back at 3am.
Just as the cops arrived it all got a bit pushy and shovey, handbags really but it meant the cops couldn’t work out what was going on. Local gangsters scamming international travellers? International pikeys scaring yaks and bullying hard working locals?
A good 2 hours of chat followed. In the end the police decided that we should sleep at the police station and then get out of Dodge in the morning.
I can now say without exaggeration – “remember that time I slept in the garage of a rural Chinese police station?”.
This is what the trip was supposed to be. Unexpected, testing adventures. Loving it.