26-Mar-2005 -- Continued from 28°N 120°E.
We got up early, in time to have a bowl of wontons for breakfast before our 6:30 a.m. bus from Beishan to the adjoining county of Jingning. Unlike the day before, which turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day, this morning was quite overcast and it was raining intermittently. The windscreen wipers of the bus were not working, and eventually the driver decided it was impossible to go on without them. He fiddled with a maze of wiring and fuses for a long time, all to no avail. As a last resort, he pulled a hammer out of his toolbox and started bashing away under the dashboard, whereupon the wipers magically sprang to life!
Not much further down the road, we were again delayed when a large group of people, complete with enormous bags and various bits and pieces of furniture, stopped the bus and engaged the driver in protracted negotiations. It turned out that they wanted to charter the bus to take them to Longquan. This actually fitted in perfectly with our plans, as the confluence was located in Longquan County, so that was to be our ultimate destination anyway. With this turn of events, instead of having to change buses in Jingning, we were able to stay on the same bus all the way to Longquan, arriving shortly after noon. The confluence was 14.4 kilometres SW of Longquan.
We checked into a guesthouse next to the bus station, leaving our backpacks in the room, then at 1 p.m., with the rain apparently easing, we got onto a bus heading towards the township of Badu. Half an hour later we disembarked at the village of Shuangxikou, with the confluence 2.4 kilometres SSE.
We followed a stream down to where it flowed into the Badu River. At this point we were faced with a choice: cross a bridge over the stream and walk towards the confluence along the north bank of the Badu River, or go in the other direction to a bridge where we could cross to the south bank of the Badu River. We already knew from the satellite photo that the confluence was on the south side of the Badu River, so we decided to take the safe option and walk back upriver to the other bridge, even though this meant going almost a kilometre directly away from the confluence.
At 2:30 p.m. we arrived in the riverside village of Antian, at an elevation of 250 metres, with the confluence just 320 metres SSW. It turned out that there was a bridge across the Badu River at Antian, and had we known this in advance, we could have saved ourselves a good deal of time and effort. But never mind, at least going back would be quicker.
From Antian, we turned right and started heading away from the river, towards the confluence, which was obviously high up on a hill. The path we followed took us within 65 metres of the confluence, but the confluence was up a very steep slope to our southwest, so we decided to stay on the path, which was going in an upwards direction anyway. The path continued climbing in a large clockwise arc around behind the hill. When we reached an elevation of 315 metres, with the confluence now 240 metres to the NNE, we decided it was time to leave the path and tackle the hill head-on.
We made our way up through a small bamboo grove until we came to a narrow water channel at an altitude of 340 metres, then followed the water channel back around the hill in the opposite, counter clockwise direction. This got us to a point where the confluence was 160 metres due north. Here there was a section of hillside that had been burnt and planted with pine trees, so we climbed up this to the top of the hill, then walked along the crest of the hill until the confluence was just 50 metres down the other side. We scrambled through the ferns and other vegetation--soaking wet from the rain--until we reached the point, from where we took the regulation north-south-east-west photos, the north shot showing Antian Village and the Badu River against a backdrop of mist covered hills. We celebrated success with another round of brownies compliments of Tim's wife Tammy.
From our vantage point near the top of the hill, we were able to identify a much easier way back down to Antian. Once back in the village, we stopped to chat to the locals about their main industry, mushroom farming. They happily showed us all the various stages of production: preparing the special medium used to grow the mushrooms, mushrooms growing out of "logs" made from the medium, mushrooms being harvested, stems being cut off, and mushrooms being dried on racks in big cupboards heated by wood-fuelled furnaces.
We got back to Longquan at 5 p.m. After a walk around town we had dinner in a nice hotel restaurant. One of the dishes we sampled was of course the local delicacy, mushrooms.
Story continues at 29°N 120°E.