12-Feb-2005 -- Wenzhou, a large seaport in the southeast of Zhejiang Province, was a welcome destination after all the cold and rain endured during the previous three confluence visits to 30°N 120°E, 30°N 119°E and 29°N 119°E. It had finally stopped raining, and was even a few degrees warmer. We decided to treat ourselves to the luxury of the four-star Jiangjun Hotel, which was in marked contrast to the Spartan amenities we'd "enjoyed" at Xu Jing's home in Quzhou, where we'd stayed over Chinese New Year.
Having abandoned the idea of trying for 28°N 120°E, a point way up in the remote hills of Qingtian County, we instead set our sites on the water confluence just to the east of Wenzhou. I sent Tony an SMS and asked him how far offshore the DCP website reckoned it was, and his answer came back: five kilometres. That's a fair way, but we thought we'd give it a crack anyway.
After a full day's rest and relaxation, we set off from our hotel at 8:30 a.m. the following morning. The sky was overcast, but the rain was holding off. The confluence was 36 kilometres away to the east. We took a no. 20 commuter bus to the train station, then walked the short distance to the New South Bus Station. Buses to Liushi depart every eight minutes, and we were soon on our way again, arriving in Liushi at 10:15 a.m., the confluence now just 11.7 kilometres ESE. After a 10-minute walk we caught another bus going our way, and 20 minutes later got off in the town of Wengyang.
According to our GPS, the confluence was now only 4.7 kilometres ESE, and the ocean was still nowhere in sight. This was rather intriguing, given that the DCP put the point five kilometres out to sea. We continued walking in the direction indicated by the GPS pointer, getting closer and closer, passing through what was obviously land that had been reclaimed for use as seafood farms, in particular for producing a species of small shellfish. We finally came to a halt when we reached the seawall, the confluence now just a tantalising 1.81 kilometres further ESE.
In all we spent almost three hours wandering around the maze of seafood farms, trying to find someone with a boat who was willing to take us out to the confluence. We found several good candidate boats, but tracking down the owners proved problematic, with everyone away visiting relatives for Chinese New Year. Eventually someone suggested that we instead go to a pier in Huanghua, quite some distance away, from where we might be able to charter a boat.
So that is what we did. We walked back out to the main road where we hailed a passing taxi and asked the driver to take us to Huanghua, which turned out to be 7.1 kilometres west of our goal, on the other side of a promontory.
At Huanghua we were in luck, easily finding several boat owners who were more than happy to take us out to the confluence...for a fee, of course. After a lot of good-natured bargaining, we eventually settled on a price with one of them. Just as the boat owner was helping us climb on board, he stopped to ask if we were planning to commit suicide by jumping out of the boat in the middle of the ocean! He was obviously quite concerned that he might not get paid. How touching.
As we motored along the south coast of the promontory we passed dozens of huge ships in various stages of construction. This area is obviously an important shipbuilding centre.
Reaching the confluence proved no problem, and there was land visible in all directions: north, south, east and west. I used my new camera's 12x optical zoom to get some clearer pictures of the mainland to the north and west.
After getting home and plotting our track over a NASA satellite image of the area, it was interesting to see how we had "walked on water" during our first approach to the confluence. No doubt the satellite image is a bit out of date, and much land has since been reclaimed.