04-Aug-2005 -- Story continues from 31°N 117°E.
Thu 4 Aug 2005 (Day 7), 7 a.m. - I'm sitting on the bus to Quanjiao, which will go via Dashu Township, where I need to get off. The bus is due to depart in 10 minutes' time. As I wait, I eat the six roubao (steamed pork buns) I've bought for breakfast. There has been some overnight rain, but it's holding off now.
8:40 a.m. - The bus drops me off at the Dashu freeway exit. The confluence is 5.6 kilometres east. I ask directions to either Xiaoming or Xiaowan, both villages mentioned in Ray's previous visit report as being relatively close to the confluence. The locals seem to be familiar with Xiaowan but not Xiaoming. They instruct me to cross north over the freeway, then turn right.
This brings me to a sealed road that I follow back under the freeway, then past what I guess might be a plywood factory. Further down the road I pass a young fellow fishing with tiny nets on the end of exceptionally long poles, and wearing what looks like a battery pack strapped to his back. A while later I come upon an old guy relaxing on a rock by the side of the road.
10:10 a.m. - I reach a point where the road crosses a stream via a stone-arch bridge, and the confluence is just 1.07 kilometres south. I cross the bridge, then turn right down a dirt road which runs alongside the stream.
The dirt road passes through a couple of villages--the latter presumably Xiaowan--and then degenerates into a very slippery, muddy affair. It's now raining on and off, making the mud almost like quicksand in places.
The confluence is located three metres into a rice paddy. As I'm already covered in mud, I figure there's nothing to lose, and carefully wade in to get all the zeroes and take the north-south-east-west shots.
The sun comes out. I follow a different muddy track back out to the main road.
11:40 a.m. - Reaching the main road, I sit down on the "kilometre 27" milepost to eat the bananas I've brought with me, and to wait for some transport. Transport materialises two bananas later, in the form of a local bus heading to Dashu. I get off at the point where it goes under the freeway, then climb up to the freeway to await a bus back to Hefei.
12:20 p.m. - After some 15 minutes of being ignored by the passing traffic, my waving is finally answered by a Hefei-bound bus, and I have my ride back into the city.
1:20 p.m. - I'm back at my hotel, showering the mud off myself, and using the spare hotel-supplied toothbrush to remove the mud from my sandals. Later I go out to buy a replacement umbrella (my other one began falling to bits during the morning's hunt), collect my laundry, buy some fruit, and visit my usual haunts: the Internet bar and the Lanzhou lamian restaurant. I then retire to my hotel room to relax for the rest of the day.
Story continues at 32°N 117°E.