Maybe you don’t want to read about this, but it wouldn’t be a fair representation of China if I didn’t tell you about the sights which have scarred me permanently – the loos. This one was unbelievable. We stopped for lunch, and needed to pee, and were directed over the road, through a courtyard where the stench from a mud hut in the corner indicated that maybe that’s where the facilities were located.

Some pilgrims hadn’t quite braved the distance, evident by the, er, evidence strewn across the entrance way. I went in first, ahead of Yingshu, winding my hoodie completely around my face. I had to jump a series of stepping stones to find a spot that hadn’t been ‘used’. I could barely walk through the door without treading on, er, ‘mess’. I tried to just look at my eyelids rather than the devestation that had gone on inside this cess pit. When I was done, Yingchu went in. I politely walked a safe distance away and waited for her. It was a dodgey little courtyard strewn with rubbish, and just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, about ten metres a way, a man pulled down his trolleys and dropped one off, right in front me. Yes. That happened. Thank you, I need counselling.

Our itinerary had us staying the night in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, but since big cities are a nightmare to navigate, we decided to have one last crack at bushcamping in China. We pulled off the highway, past the irrigated fields of cotton and into the dusty moonscape desert of far western China, trying to find a hidey hole for an enormous orange truck.

Eventually, a track led off the road to a Dam, so we pulled off to have a look how hidden we would be. But there was no one to ask. As usual in China, within minutes a man and his wife had rocked up on a motorbike to check on their sheep, and Yingchu struck up a conversation with them. They said it’d probably be ok for us to camp there, but I wasn’t really convinced by them. The guy was making phone calls and kept asking Yingchu to try and sell us some Jade Er, yeah. Minutes later a truck had pulled up and some other shiftier guys were in toe. They made a beeline for Bob and were walking around, laughing and kicking the tyres. They were looking inside and talking in their own dialect. It made me nervous that Yingchu couldn’t understand them, and they weren’t even really trying to engage us. It took about an hour before everyone had cleared off and we tried to decide if we were safe to camp there. I didn’t feel safe.  We waited until we couldn’t see a single other car, then drove around the bay of the dam to a more secluded area and set up for the night. I barely slept, but I guess it was fine in the end. It just made me long to feel really safe camping again, like I did in Oz. I'm not sure I'm going to feel that way for the rest of the trip.