29-Jul-2003 -- Continued from 29°N 115°E.
Tuesday 29 July 2003 – On the previous excursion to visit two confluences, I'd packed for three days and ended up taking four, so this time I wasn't taking any chances as I set out on a four-confluence excursion to the east of Nanchang. My laundry was ready as promised, and I packed most of the clothes I had, leaving behind only a small bag of non-essential stuff.
I checked out of the hotel at 7 a.m., and took the 7:43 a.m. train bound for Leping. During the journey, I learned from fellow passengers that the top temperatures for today and tomorrow were both predicted to exceed 40°C. Instead of cooling down, the weather was simply getting hotter!
The train arrived on schedule at 11:26 a.m., and I was soon on a commuter bus to the Leping bus station. The confluence was 11.8 kilometres west-northwest, in the next county, but this time there was no problem finding a bus across county lines. As I waited for my bus to Fengshuxia to depart, two ladies were doing the rounds of the bus station compound, carrying giant thermos flasks filled with popsicles, known in Chinese as bingbang, offering them for sale to the sweltering passengers.
The bus departed at 12 noon. Shortly after we were on our way, when the ticket seller started collecting passengers' fares, a major squabble broke out over the cost of the tickets for several passengers. The driver stopped the bus, and one particular passenger came within a hair's breadth of being ejected in the middle of nowhere in the 40°C heat. Eventually tempers cooled, the dispute was resolved, and we were on our way again.
I arrived in Fengshuxia at 12:45 p.m., with the confluence 2.5 kilometres to the northeast. I took a minivan up a dirt road to its closest approach to the confluence, just 370 metres south-southeast. The terrain was exceedingly flat, and I headed off blindly into the scrub and young pine trees in the direction of the confluence, only to be rewarded with a nasty gash in the back of my left leg from a hidden thorn bush. That made me decide to stop and change from shorts and sandals into long pants and hiking boots. It was hotter, but safer.
The NASA satellite image for this confluence showed a lot of water about, and I caught a glimpse of one such body of water as I made my way to the confluence. Finding ground zero was not too difficult, although it did require a bit of backtracking on several occasions in order to get past areas of particularly dense scrub.
I reached the confluence at 1:35 p.m., by which time I was totally drenched in sweat. The photos looking north, south, east and west fail to depict just how hot and dry it was out there. The picture of yours truly does a slightly better job. The GPS was providing excellent accuracy of just 6 metres. I recorded an elevation of 46 metres.
As I made my way back to the dirt road, I invariably found a better route, along a fairly well-trodden path, which took me past two odd-looking graves hidden away in the bush, 130 metres northwest of the confluence. The second grave had two brown boulders seemingly precariously balanced atop it.
I walked back along the hot dusty dirt road to Fengshuxia, arriving at 2:45 p.m. I had time to down several bottles of chilled bottled water before catching a passing bus back to Leping. In Leping, I hopped straight onto a bus to Dexing, arriving there at 5:15 p.m.
Everything in Dexing seemed to be new, including the bus station and the Dexing Hotel, where I got a nice hotel room, although for slightly more than I'd been paying in the heart of Nanchang. I rounded off the evening with a session at an Internet bar, dinner spread over two restaurants, and a shopping spree for cookies and bottled water for the following day.
Story continues at 29°N 118°E.