08-Aug-2006 -- On a bright sunny summer day, 8 August 2006, I completed my first confluence visit in Qinghai Province, western China. 33N 97E is just on the outskirts of the town called Yushu, also known as Jyekundo. It is in a mountainous region, quite high altitude. The confluence itself is at 3740 m above sea level.
Yushu is mainly an agricultural town, as well as being home to a large Buddhist monastery and another smaller temple quite close to the confluence. The population is probably about half-half Han Chinese and Tibetan, with a small number of Hui Chinese to bring it up to 100 per cent. There are a lot of yaks, too!
I reached Yushu from Sichuan Province, to the south, coming north up the road and over a 4700 m pass from Shiqu. It is also easy to reach by a long, long bus journey from Xining, the capital of Qinghai, far to the east.
The afternoon before my visit, I climbed to the top of the hill where the monastery oversees the whole town. I was pretty sure I could see where the confluence would be, across the other side of town and hopefully on the green slopes of a hill, rather than in the winding brown alley-ways of that part of town.
Setting out from my hotel the next morning, I had only a 2 km walk ahead of me. As I got closer, I started to worry that the confluence would be in someone's house. My Chinese is pretty elementary, and I didn't think I'd be able to explain what I was up to. But with about 500 m to go, I came out onto the field behind town, and then saw that the spot might actually fall inside the walls surrounding some communications antennae.
Under the watchful eyes of a nearby yak, I followed the arrow on my screen until I found the exact confluence, only a meter or two from the wall surrounding the communications facility. Success! The GPS stated an error of plus-minus 6 metres.
I took my photographs and made a swift but happy departure. Foreigners are few and far between in this part of China and I worried that someone might see me photographing the communications facility and marking its location with GPS. You can never tell what a bored local policeman might think of such activity!
I never came within reasonable distance of another confluence on the rest of trip, but I look forward to future visits when the chance presents itself.