It is very obvious that I am now in what is effectively a different country even though it is officiially still China.
The people are a lot swarthier,
Given Saturday's cool weather I decided to get all my cold weather gear on, and luckily I did. Once again I allowed the GPS to misdirect me before finding the way back on to the G110 by instinct after around 50kms of riding. There were more massive lines of trucks but these ones were on the expressway instead of the G110 (at this point the two roads run side by side).
I was heading North west to Jining and the Haobon was running slowly because of the massive head wind I was riding in to. I noticed the temperature was dropping as the wet weather gear was not enough to keep the wind completely out, and then it happened. At first I thought it was just sand blowing across the road combined with wind, and then it started to pile up on my body - snow flurries. Oh well, it looks quite pretty - bit cold maybe but quite pretty.... and then it turned into corn snow - hard little pellets of the stuff. Now don't forget, I'm running with an open face helmet and NO visor and NO eye protection. This was extremely painful and I had to put my left hand over my face to provide some protection. Fortunately it didn't last long and by Jining I thought it may be clearing - little did I know.
From Jining it's pretty much straight North to Erenhot - 320 km of good road, the last 100km or so an expressway (yes, bikes allowed). There were no problems getting past police check points to ride the road but the weather was only getting worse. Most of the time I was riding North so I had the full brunt of the wind in my face (with only a balaclava to protect it) and at times riding west with the bike leaning around 10 degrees to the right to stay upright in the wind, but still getting blown from one side of the road to the other - you can see from the picture of the bent trees just how strong it was.
In the middle of this stretch was around 150km where it was no longer flurries - it was snowing heavily and the snow was staying on the ground.