We had only two nights left in China now, and drove from our last Chinese campsite to the town of Jinghe – only to realise that tomorrow Jinghe would host the Xinjiang Olympics and every hotel was booked out. Cracking. To make matters worse, we’d left Joe waiting in the car whilst Yingchu and I did the run around trying to find a room for the night, and when we returned, defeated, he’d been accosted by two extremely inebriated middle aged chinese men and turned into their new best friend. One of them was leaning inside the car and yelling in chinese that we were to stay at his house, no question about it. We got away as quickly as we could (after we’d had the obligatory photo taken with them, no less).

Determined to get away from pre-olympic madness, we drove out to see a nearby lake as the sun was setting, and after several mis-directions down country lanes and nearly running out of diesel (again) we finally found the gate in and were told it was closed for ‘ecological repair’. Bastards!

Back in town we had Xinjiang’s most amazing dish – dapan-dzih – a saucy, spicy  mass of chicken pieces and potatoes (big enough for about 10 people, but we managed). Once all the chicken and potato have been devoured they then throw a steaming bevvy of freshly made flat noodles into the bowl to sop up the sauce. Gluttony at its finest.

Frighteningly, as we were tucking ourselves into our hotel room, Joe’s inebriated NBF from earlier came knocking on our hotel room door. He had tracked down not only which hotel we were staying at, but the room number as well. Ten minutes later, after Joe had politely declined to join him for a nightcap several thousand times, they were no longer friends.

The next morning, the barrage of food continued – more hand pulled beef noodles for breakfast AND dumplings. I had thought it strange some time into China that all my clothes had started to shrink, but I was too busy eating to worry much about it.

Our last scenic spot on the road to the border town of Horgas was Sailimu Lake. It was breathtaking here. The water was crystal clear and the sky was bright blue, around the lake were nothing but rolling hills and snow capped mountains. A road ran for 13km around the perimeter of the lake and we pulled off at a random spot to lie in the sun and relax a bit before the impending chaos or border-day.

This may look like a dagger, but I have to mention it. The lake is massive with boundless areas to stop and enjoy the views, and yet every other car that drove along decided to pull off the road and park directly next to us. Have you any independent thought people?!

We finished the day with a bit of a climb around the scree-ish hills nearby to get a better view of the lake and then headed on our way to the end of China, for tomorrow’s border crossing.

I’d been nervous about this border crossing for a long time – but I thought with Yingchu helping us, getting out of China would be as easy as getting in. Not so. It was much busier here, and when we drove up at 10am, there were hordes of people queuing with their carry bags of cheap Chinese tack to take over the border. We had to fight tooth and nail with the border guards to allow Yingchu to come through and help with translation, and even then, what needed to be stamped, signed or handed over was still a mystery. About an hour and a half of going from one official to the next, we were hugging goodbye to Yingchu and driving past the last sour faces of Chinese soldiers, into No Mans Land and ahead, in cyrillic, a pale blue sign was welcoming us to Kazakhstan.