27-Dec-2003 -- Story continues from 22°N 110°E.
Fri 26-Dec-2003, 1 p.m. - When I arrived back at Yulin's Central Bus Station, I enquired about buses north to Dayang, and was told I needed to go to the Gongyepin Bus Station. I hopped into the sidecar of a motorcycle, a common form of transport in Yulin, for the short journey across town. At the Gongyepin Bus Station I soon learned that there were only two, very slow buses each day from there to Dayang, and that I really needed to go to the Western Suburbs Bus Station. Another motorcycle sidecar ride got me to the Western Suburbs Bus Station, which indeed had buses to Dayang, but it was remarkable that I could get no concrete information as to when the first bus would leave the next morning. One station official said maybe 8 a.m., another said maybe 9 a.m. Just as I was engaged in these fruitless enquiries, a bus from Dayang pulled into the station, so I went over and asked the driver, who was able to furnish the information I sought. The first bus for Dayang would leave at 6 a.m., not from this or any of the other stations I'd been to, but from yet another station, the Guiping Lukou Bus Station.
Before leaving, I asked if there was a decent hotel nearby, and on this score the station officials were much more forthcoming, recommending the Jinhua Hotel just 100 metres down the road. Following their instructions, I set off on foot and found it exactly where they said it would be.
2 p.m. - I checked into the nice but relatively inexpensive Jinhua Hotel, eagerly looking forward to a hot shower and a change of clothes, but the girl on reception suggested that, if I were prepared to wait for another half an hour, I could have a free upgrade to a luxury room. This sounded like a good deal, so I left my bag with reception and went off for a stroll through the nearby wholesale market to kill the time.
The market is apparently one of southern China's major wholesale markets, or so one of the locals I spoke to claimed. There was certainly a staggering amount of produce on sale, some notable commodities being dried mushrooms, chilli and tea. I bought just over half a kilogram of very good quality biluochun ("blue spiral spring") tea for roughly a tenth the retail price.
I ate a bowl of noodles in a small restaurant near the market before returning to the hotel. Once inside my luxury room, I was finally able to wash away all the grime and dust from the morning's bus ride.
Sat 27-Dec-2003, 5 a.m. - I woke to my alarm after a very long sleep, and was soon packed and ready for the hunt. I checked out, leaving my bag with reception, then took a taxi to the Guiping Lukou Bus Station. While waiting for the bus to come, I bought some mandarins from a roadside fruit stall. My GPS said the confluence was 42 kilometres to the north.
6 a.m. - The Dayang bus departed well before the sun came up. The journey to Dayang was 63 kilometres by road, the first 20 of which were over a nice straight sealed road. The remainder were on a winding dirt road though somewhat more hilly terrain.
The pretty ticket seller on this bus was just 17, and very curious to know why I was going to Dayang, but she had a complete lack of knowledge when it came to latitude and longitude. Showing her the light blue lines intersecting on the map didn't help either, and I suspect the purpose of my journey will forever remain a complete mystery in her mind.
7:55 a.m. - The bus arrived in Dayang, and now that it was daylight, I took the opportunity to take a picture of the ticket seller in front of her bright yellow bus.
On the way into Dayang, the bus had passed within 70 metres of the confluence, which was now 1.8 kilometres to the south. The morning air was exceptionally crisp, with a chilly wind blowing, and I became very conscious of the cold as I started my walk back down the road towards the confluence. I wished I'd put on more clothes.
The confluence was very easy to find, on the side of a small knoll east of the road, in a field of mushu (cassava), a perennial woody shrub able to grow on marginal lands where cereals and other crops do not grow well. Its tuberous roots are used for pig feed. At the time of my visit, the harvest was over, and all that were left were thick stalks lying in piles on the ground. I took the regulation north-south-east-west shots.
On my way back to the main road, I met some members of the family who own the confluence. The mother wrote the Chinese characters for mushu in my notebook so that I could look it up later.
8:55 a.m. - As luck would have it, the first bus to come by was the same one I had caught earlier that morning. The ticket seller was most bemused that I should be leaving Dayang so soon after arriving.
On the journey back to Yulin, the bus was much more crowded, and stopped frequently to pick up and set down passengers. I saw several people in fields along the way flying kites in the stiff breeze, a popular Chinese pastime.
I arrived in Yulin shortly after 11 a.m., collected my bag from the hotel, where I changed from my hiking boots into some more comfortable shoes, then took a motorcycle sidecar to the Central Bus Station to enquire about buses to Shenzhen. The next one didn't depart until 10 p.m., but there was an express bus leaving for Guangzhou at noon, from the Eastern Suburbs Bus Station. I bought a ticket, then jumped in a taxi and urged the driver to proceed as quickly as possible to the Eastern Suburbs Bus Station. This was the fifth bus station I had been to in Yulin in just two days (not to mention the train station). I arrived with 10 minutes to spare.
7 p.m. - I arrived in Guangzhou after nightfall, and immediately got a bus to Shenzhen, without even having to leave the second floor of the Guangzhou Provincial Bus Station. From Shenzhen it was a simple matter to cross the border, catch a KCR train, two MTR trains and a ferry back to Lamma Island, arriving home just after 11 p.m., with another two confluences in the bag.