13-Aug-2005 -- Story continues from 30°N 113°E.
Fri 12 Aug 2005 (Day 15, cont'd), 12:20 p.m. - After a short wait back at the road, we catch a passing minivan to the main highway, and then get a bus back to the county capital of Jianli.
1:10 p.m. - Upon arrival in Jianli, we take a three-wheeler to the main bus station where we purchase tickets on the 1:30 p.m. bus NW to Shashi, capital of Jingzhou Prefecture. This leaves us just sufficient time to collect our bags from the hotel across the street.
1:30 p.m. - Thank goodness it's an air-conditioned bus! Today is a scorcher. We eat the lotus kernels that we got from the previous confluence (both the ones Ah Feng stole, and the ones the nice man who lives near the confluence gave us). Soon I'm nodding off, and I fall asleep for two hours.
4:45 p.m. - We arrive in Shashi. Fifteen minutes later we are on a small bus south to the county capital of Gong'an. We cross the Yangtze River on an enormous bridge 4,398 metres long.
5:40 p.m. - Upon arrival in Gong'an, we don't even need to leave the bus station parking lot, getting straight onto a bus that will take us SW to the township of Shizikou ("Lion's Mouth").
7 p.m. - We arrive in Shizikou, a small place on the south bank of the Songzi River. The confluence is two kilometres NW. We don't expect anything terribly elaborate in the way of accommodation here, so we're quite pleasantly surprised when we find a very nice, clean, family-run hotel, beyond all expectations in terms of value for money.
We check in, then, before it gets dark, go for a walk down to the riverbank. There are many people here enjoying the cool evening breeze, however we are concerned to discover a distinct lack of boats. This does not bode well for tomorrow, because we know from the NASA satellite image that the confluence is in the middle of the river.
We have a nice dinner in a local restaurant, then go back to the hotel to wash off all the accumulated dust and mud from the morning's confluence hunt. After that, we go out again for a hair-wash, and I find an Internet bar.
Sat 13 Aug 2005 (Day 16), 6 a.m. - We awake to the alarm after an extremely comfortable night's sleep. Half an hour later, we are setting off in search of the confluence point.
7:05 a.m. - We've walked for two kilometres along the riverbank, and the only boat we've seen the entire way is a small ferry preparing to cross the river, just 290 metres south of the confluence. We get on board, and by doing so evidently make up the quorum, because the ferryman then immediately sets off across the river.
We wait patiently to see how close we will get. The boat passes by the confluence at a distance of 115 metres. Close, but not close enough.
Prior to the return journey, we have a word with the ferryman, explaining what we are trying to do, and instruct him to follow the GPS pointer in order to get us as near to the point as possible. He doesn't say a lot, but nevertheless seems happy to give it a try.
This time we get a favourable result. Although he has to contend with a significant current, the ferryman manages to motor by the spot at a distance of 28 metres, and we reckon he's done a pretty good job. We take shots facing north, south, east and west.
Back on shore where we started, we pay for our round trip journey, and the ferryman of few words appears pretty happy.
Story continues at 31°N 112°E.