25-Mar-2005 -- Jim, who had just arrived in Hong Kong on an overnight flight from Australia that morning, was already waiting for me at the China (HK) Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui when I got there at 4:30 p.m. We took the 5:30 p.m. ferry to Shenzhen Airport, then the 8 p.m. China Southern Airlines flight to Wenzhou via Jinjiang. It was 10:30 p.m. by the time we arrived in Wenzhou. We caught the airport shuttle bus into town, then a taxi to the Wenzhou West Bus Station. After ascertaining that there were no more buses that evening, we allowed ourselves to be escorted to a small but cheap guesthouse by its super-persuasive manageress who had been hanging around the bus station looking for customers.
The next morning, after an invigorating hot shower, we checked out of the guesthouse at 6:45 a.m. and walked back to the bus station, where we bought tickets for the 7:40 a.m. bus WNW to Qingtian. We had enough time to sit down and enjoy a hot bowl of congee in the restaurant next to the station before our bus departed.
Qingtian is one of several counties in Lishui Prefecture, and is the county in which this confluence is located. Upon arrival in Qingtian at 9 a.m. we took a taxi across town to another bus station, and from there caught the 9:30 a.m. bus WSW to the township of Beishan. It had started out a pretty overcast morning, but during the hour-long journey to Beishan the sun began making more frequent and prolonged appearances.
In Beishan we had 20 minutes during which to grab a quick bowl of noodles before catching another bus at 10:50 a.m. heading southwest towards the adjoining township of Linggen. We got off this bus after only 20 minutes, near the village of Fukou. The confluence was now just 5.2 kilometres to the south. We needed to cross a river, and the ferryman was on the other bank, but as soon as he saw us he came over and got us.
We began walking up a dirt road following a river upstream into the hills towards the confluence--this was a tributary of the river we had just crossed. Before long a three-wheeler came by with some people in the back, and we hailed it and joined them. As it turned out, some of them were heading exactly where we wanted to go, to the village of Xixie, the last village before the confluence.
Xixie is at an altitude of 188 metres, with the confluence one kilometre to the WSW. It would all be uphill from here. Fortunately one of the ladies with whom we'd shared the three-wheeler was kind enough to let us leave our big backpacks at her house while we tackled the mountain. At 12:15 p.m. we set off up a path next to a large water pipe that was part of a new hydro project. Forty-five minutes later, at an elevation of 400 metres, we came across a large number of workmen busy constructing a dam that would eventually feed water into the pipe. The confluence was now just 300 metres WSW.
We found a path that followed a small stream up into the hills in the direction of the confluence, but the path soon petered out, and in any case, the confluence was now off to the right of the stream, and we had no option but to take to the steep, heavily vegetated slope. The going was not easy. Without a trail to follow, we were hampered by both thick scrub and the steep angle of the slope. After an hour and a half of hard slog, with our hands covered in scratches, we decided we'd got about as close as we were going to get. The confluence was still a dozen metres away to the north, down an extremely precipitous slope that would have required ropes to negotiate. We took photos looking north, south, east and west. The photo looking east afforded a nice view of the valley we'd come up, however pretty much all that could be seen in the other three directions was scrub.
After telling Tim's wife Tammy how enjoyable the brownies that Tim had brought along and shared on our recent visit to 30°N 119°E had been, she insisted on baking me a fresh batch for this confluencing expedition. Much to Jim's delight, I now produced these, and we treated ourselves to a double serving, figuring we'd earned it with all the hard work we'd put into getting to this confluence.
Not surprisingly, going down was considerably quicker and easier than coming up. We were back in Xixie by 4 p.m. We collected our backpacks from the lady's house and started walking back towards Beishan, then got a three-wheeler the rest of the way. In Beishan we found a really nice guesthouse with a balcony overlooking a picturesque river. There was a large crowd of people flying kites in an open grassed area next to the river. We were both quite tired, so we had dinner at the guesthouse then went to bed early.
Story continues at 28°N 119°E.