29-Mar-2005 -- Continued from 29°N 121°E.
At 3:30 p.m. we caught a bus from Huangtan Township southeast to the county capital Linhai, a journey of 40 minutes. After a further wait of 40 minutes in Linhai, we were once again on a bus, this time travelling north along a busy freeway to the large city of Ningbo. Upon arrival, we checked into a small guesthouse next to the bus station.
The next morning we caught the 7:10 a.m. bus to Dinghai, the capital of Zhoushan Prefecture, a collection of islands southeast of Shanghai. Our bus drove onto a vehicular ferry for the crossing to Zhoushan Island. Everyone assumed we were on our way to the very popular tourist destination of Putuoshan, a smaller island just off the eastern tip of Zhoushan Island, but our goal was in fact in waters off the western end of Zhoushan Island.
I started to feel a little apprehensive when I noticed prominent red signs displayed around the ferry warning against photographing military installations. They brought to mind the unpleasant experience I'd had when I unknowingly strayed into a military area in pursuit of 27°N 110°E in Hunan Province.
We arrived in Dinghai at 9:30 a.m. The bus driver was surprised when we disembarked here rather than continuing on to Shenjiamen, the gateway for tourists to Putuoshan. The confluence was nine kilometres to the west of Dinghai. We enquired about buses to Wailuotou, a village on the southwestern tip of Zhoushan Island, but were told the easiest way to get there would be to take a taxi, which we did, arriving at 9:50 a.m., the confluence now just 2.64 kilometres to the west.
The plan was to arrive in Wailuotou and hunt down a fisherman who would be willing to take us out to the confluence in his boat, but things didn't go according to plan. For starters, Wailuotou was not a fishing village. Instead, the first thing we saw when we got there was an unwelcoming "no admittance" sign in the direction we wanted to go, and beyond the sign were workmen wearing army fatigues. So much for that idea.
We left the coast and walked through the village to its northern end, where we came upon another identical "no admittance" sign. Things were looking decidedly unfavourable, and we were just about ready to give up when a local came along and suggested we could follow a narrow laneway that ran alongside a fuel storage compound. So off we went.
The laneway led onto a dirt road that enabled us to reach the top of a small headland. From here we had a good view to the southeast over the village of Wailuotou. However our view to the west was blocked by a high wall...except that there was a hole in the wall! Boldly (or foolishly) we made our way through the hole, and followed a dirt track over the hill in the direction of the confluence.
Not far inside the wall we came upon an interesting Chinese grave, complete with picnic table. As we continued on, the west coast of the island started to become visible through the trees, causing us to question whether we should be here at all. It was obviously a naval area.
We dared not go any further down the track, however there was a small trail leading off to the left, which we followed through the trees down to the water, where we found a cement observation "pillbox". The GPS showed the confluence was 2.16 kilometres west, straight out to sea, and this was as close as we were going to get.
Fortunately for us, the pillbox was unmanned. From this vantage point we could clearly see a naval installation to the north. We snapped a photo in the direction of the confluence as a boat was passing by, then decided to get out of there before we were discovered.
All the way back I was nervously looking over my shoulder, my heart racing every time a vehicle with military plates approached. I couldn't wait to get off Zhoushan Island and back to the mainland.
There were no celebratory brownies for this incomplete visit.
Story continues at 30°N 121°E.