12-Oct-2004 -- This is the 26th out of 29 confluence visits on our tour from Germany to China, the story continues from 27N 106E.
This was an incredible day. I woke up with the first daylight, but found myself locked in the hotel. Only with an extremely loud noise I could wake up someone to unlock the front door. Without having breakfast I left the village Gukai (about 15 km beeline distance from the CP). The closest village to the point named Yangzhang (= Goat Place) seemed not too far away from Gukai, I estimated an hour by bike. But because the road was gravelled, winding and steep uphill, it took almost three hours to get there. Right at the confluence point, my map showed a big white area with nothing on it. It looked like an upcoming adventure to get to this point, especially with the steep mountains all around. Once I passed a motorbike who stopped, the rider asked me where I wanted to go. Without stopping I answered 'Yangzhang'. After a while, the motorbiker passed me again and stopped at the next intersection. First, I thought he would only try to do some small talk with me. In fact, he pointed to a small way up and told me this was the way to Yangzhang. I surely would have missed that small track without his help, since there was no sign either. He told me, that he also was going to Yangzhang because he was the geography teacher there. The geography teacher! What a great opportunity to explain that I wanted to go to 27° North 105° East. Indeed, he understood and we agreed to meet after his lesson was over (he was late for class and had to speed on). Meanwhile I pushed my bike 4 km up on the steep grade gravel road.
I reached Yangzhang almost starved. It's the most remote place in China that I have seen. The place consisted only of an elementary and a middle school, some sleeping rooms for the teachers, a restaurant and a small shop. It actually was on top of a mountain and you could see the mountains in all directions. First I had a meal, while everybody was watching me. The cook wanted to do me a favour and cooked a lot for me. Nevertheless, I ordered a second meal. At 10:30, classes were over and I was soon surrounded by some hundred kids with running noses. I explained to the Chinese, the English, and the geography teachers what I wanted to do. They understood and suggested we take their motorbikes because the way wouldn't be suitable for push-bikes. Although I couldn't believe it, I agreed. And off we went altogether four motorbikes (and eight people). Indeed, the track was incredibily bad with big rocks, deep mud holes; really not for a bicycle. We had to push the motorbikes once in a while and sometimes the passengers had to walk. Using the motorbikes, we managed to get as close as 1.2 km from the confluence. Then we started hiking. I told them, that this distance in the mountains means a lot. But they said that people from Guizhou are used to do mountain climbing. Meanwhile, everybody had confluence fever; every 100 m the whole group had to stop and look at the GPS display. We climbed mountains up and down, asked local people (mostly Miao minority people) for the way. Finally, we made it! Everybody was happy and we took pictures together.
Interestingly, along the whole way, there was not a single house. But just 20 m from the CP there was a farmer's house. The teachers had to rush back to school, because their next lesson started at 2:30 pm. But the excitement was not over yet: when we had almost gotten back to the school, a police car came towards us. Of course they were looking for me. In this area had never been a foreigner before. To be honest: I was bored. The same procedure as always followed when coming through a controled area: first of all I had to get off the motorbike, because riding motorbike was 'unsafe'. So I had to ride in the police car for the last remaining two kilometres back to Yangzhang. They brought me directly to the police station. There, I had to explain to them my passport, visa, why I came here (of course I didn't mention the CP-visit). After they wrote a lengthy report, the policemen phoned to the capital Guiyang and made a report. Finally, I could go and they stopped being strict with me. A handshake later and I was off.
I rode until darkness this day. When a bus overtook me, I stopped them and they said they would take me and the bike. There was no need to ride in darkness the last 20 km to Hezhang. When I reached Hezhang, I saw a bus just about to leave for Weining. Without thinking to much, I got in and put the bike on top. What a mistake! The bus was crammed with people and luggage and I was squeezed in-between. It was 76 km of gravel road and almost everybody was throwing up (except me). All windows had to be opened so they could put their meals on the road and not in the bus (most of them made it, some didn't). When I reached Weining I was exhausted.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 1:20 p.m.
- Duration: 5 h 40 min (until I was back on my route)
- Distance of bike parking: 5260 m (bicycle), 1200 m(motor-bikes)
- GPS height: 1782 m
- Description: On a little harvested soy-bean field, very remote area, but 50 m next to a single farm. Steep karst formations all around.
- Given Name: The Teachers' Confluence
Story continues at 27N 104E.