11-Jul-2008 -- Story continues from 35°N 115°E.
We get back to the main road just in time to catch a passing bus west to Zhèngzhōu (郑州), capital of Hénán Province (河南省). In Zhèngzhōu, we get a taxi across town to the north bus station, and again arrive just in time to catch the last bus NE to Ānyáng City (安阳市), at 5:25 p.m.
I receive an email on my BlackBerry from Peter Cao, confirming receipt of the CD containing our first 14 confluence visits' photos, which brings tremendous peace of mind. During these long confluence trips, my biggest concern is always the potential loss of irreplaceable photographic records.
We arrive in Ānyáng quite late, and check into the extremely good Aoma Business Hotel, just near the railway station. The next morning, we need to take a no. 28 commuter bus to the west bus station, from where we catch the 9 a.m. bus SW to Mǎjiā Township (马家乡).
It's a hot, dry, dusty day, with terrible air pollution. Our bus goes past a huge, coal-fired power station on the outskirts of Ānyáng, belching out its fair share of pollutants.
In Mǎjiā, 4.55 km NE of the confluence, we engage a minivan driver to take us to Guōjiāyáo Village (郭家窑村), which, looking at the map, seems to be the nearest identifiable place to the confluence. Before we get to Guōjiāyáo however, at another village just 500 m east of the confluence, we ask the driver to take a gravel side road, which brings us to 240 m east of the confluence at its closest point.
We start our assault on the confluence at a likely-looking spot a bit further down the gravel road, 300 m SE of the confluence. We climb over some terraced fields, and eventually find the confluence on the other side of the hill, amongst some derelict terraces, overgrown with wild vegetation, including many nasty thorn bushes.
It requires some degree of sacrifice - in the form of deep scratches to my unprotected legs - to perform the confluence dance and secure the zero reading on the GPS. That done, we snap the photos facing north, south, east and west, then return to the path we discovered at the top of the hill, where Ah Feng now stops to photograph my bloody legs. We then walk down the path, which connects to a small gravel road, which in turn leads back down to the main gravel road, at 36°0'4.4"N 114°0'13.3"E. This is certainly the simplest way to reach this confluence.
Our minivan driver has been patiently waiting to take us back to Mǎjiā. When we arrive, there is an Ānyáng-bound bus sitting there, and I get on board to secure our seats, while Ah Feng goes off to find somewhere to wash her feet. I'm sitting on the bus, chatting with the locals, when suddenly the police arrive, and ask me to get off the bus and accompany them to the local police station, a short walk away.
They keep Ah Feng and me there for about an hour, asking lots of questions, examining and photocopying our travel documents, and even having a half-hearted play with the GPS. But in the end, the situation is not as grave as we fear. We are not in a closed area, and have done nothing wrong. It's all because of the Běijīng Olympics, they explain. A new regulation requires them to closely monitor the activities of any foreigners who happen to show up on their patch.
After asking us to pose for a group photo (we also have them to take the same photo with our camera), they drive us all the way out to the main highway, and wait with us there until we're safely on a passing bus back to Ānyáng.
Story continues at 36°N 115°E.