28-Nov-2005 -- So it turns out that confluencing is addictive - this site should come with a warning!
We arrived in the 'Lonely Planet' town of Jinghong in the Xishuangbanna region of China with the intention of bumming around in the sub-tropical heat for a few days. However, the idea of visiting our second confluence point kept niggling at us and within 24 hours we were back on the net to find the nearest unvisited spot. Turns out it was pretty close, so we got our hands on a road map, rented a couple of mountain bikes and set off early one morning to go and bag it.
After a long, hot, sweaty, curse-filled, uphill ride along a fairly major highway we turned onto a dirt track to face another long, hot, sweaty, curse-filled, uphill ride. The track followed the construction of China's favourite new type of road - highway on stilts (see photos) - and took us past scores of small shanty-towns full of labourers. Once we thought we'd died from excessive exertion at least three times we found ourselves about 600m from the confluence facing impenetrable jungle.
So, we locked the bikes up and set off on foot cursing our bad judgement for not bringing a machete with us. However, the confluece Gods were on our side and the approximate bearing to the point led us up a small gully where we were able to climb and crawl our way up through the stream bed until we were within 100 metres of the confluence. From here we tried to approach the exact position of the confluece but thick jungle and lack of clear sky (preventing lock on GPS) beat us. We settled on a spot where we could stand on a massive fallen tree and where the sky was clear enough to get GPS accuracy of 25m. Here we congratulated ourselves on our (relative) success!
When we finally stopped to take the photos we were amazed by the jungle we were in. There were wild bananas growing on massive banana palms, tropical birds singing noisily, colourful butterflies flittering past and no man-made noise (pretty rare in China!).
We returned back to Jinghong (downhill almost all the way - bliss!) without much hassle. The chain broke on Tom's bike, but was quickly fixed in one of the shanty-towns by a young drunk who had a mean command of a screwdriver and a hammer and we were outrun by a boy of about seven who insisted on racing us on foot (and who almost pee'd his pants with joy when I gave him our last mandarin!).
Overall, mission successful! Till next time...