02-Jul-2010 -- Story continues from 32°N 119°E.
The people in the restaurant near the Mèngmù Village bus stop told us that we would be able to get a bus to Chángzhōu (常州市) from Tāngshān (汤山镇), so we caught the next Jīntāng bus to come along, continuing on in the same direction. However, at the bus station in Tāngshān, we were informed that the only way to get to Chángzhōu was to first go back to Nánjīng.
A Nánjīng bus was just preparing to depart, and it was air-conditioned, so we didn't mind too much. It was nice just to get out of the heat. It left Tāngshān at 2:30 p.m.
Back in Nánjīng, the first Chángzhōu bus we could get was not until 6 p.m., so we had a bit of a wait. It was a nice bus, worth the wait, with wide, padded armrests between the seats, almost like business class on a plane.
Upon arrival in Chángzhōu, we were really impressed with the spacious, clean, and obviously very new, central bus and railway station. We found a reasonable hotel, the New Jǐnjiāng Business & Travel Hotel (常州新锦江商旅酒店), a couple of blocks away. It was a vast improvement over the night before, and received Ah Feng's stamp of approval.
The next morning, we were still very tired and reluctant to get out of bed, but at 8:30 a.m. eventually went down for the complimentary breakfast, half an hour before it was due to finish.
We checked out at 9:30 a.m., and by 10 a.m., were on a no. 48 commuter bus to Chūnjiāng (春江镇). It was very good value: a trip of around 20 kilometres for just 2 yuan (US$ 0.30) each. The bus travelled north through miles and miles of factories, eventually terminating at the Wéitáng Vehicular Ferry (圩塘轮渡). We purchased pedestrian tickets for the ferry for 3 yuan (US$ 0.45) each.
The ferry loaded up with vehicles, and we commenced our crossing of the Yangtze River (Chángjiāng 长江) at 11 a.m. We disembarked on the northern bank at the town of Qīwéi (七圩镇). The confluence was approximately 1.6 kilometres NW.
We followed a road along the river bank, or at least along the row of factories lining the river bank. One of these, a large shipbuilding factory, had a contingent of police, security guards and other people milling about outside the front gate. Ah Feng went to investigate, and learned that the factory had gone bust, and that the workers were unable to collect their wages.
It had been spitting with rain ever so slightly since we'd left our hotel—not enough to contemplate opening an umbrella, but just enough to be pleasantly refreshing in the hot and humid conditions. The air pollution was so bad that we would not have known there were any clouds in the sky had it not been for the occasional telltale raindrop.
When we arrived in the vicinity of the confluence, based on the experience of the previous visitors who had either swam or boated their way as near to the point as they could, we spent some time searching for a boat, but in vain. So then we decided to walk across the sand to see just how close we could get. To our utter astonishment, we discovered that the confluence was now located on dry land!
A chunk of the river was in the process of being turned into reclaimed land, and the confluence point was located within the boundary of this reclamation. Unfortunately, it was on the other side of a small outlet. I tested the depth with a view to walking straight across, but it got very deep very quickly, so we backtracked a bit, and crossed at an easier point, although I should have taken off my thongs first. I quickly sank into the mud in the centre of the outlet, and although I could lift my feet up, my thongs stayed put. I had to reach my arm down into the dirty, oily, sticky black muck to retrieve them.
The confluence was located just a few metres from the water's edge. We washed off our feet, our footwear, and my arm in the Yangtze River, then took the requisite photos: GPS, north, south, east and west.
A shipbuilding factory was visible to the north. In the river to the west, an artificial sandbar made from sand wrapped in thick black plastic indicates the boundary of the reclamation area. I wouldn't be surprised if the next visitors to this confluence find it located within the confines of yet another brand new factory complex.
Story continues at 32°N 121°E.