15-Aug-2005 -- Story continues from 31°N 113°E.
Sun 14 Aug 2005 (Day 17, cont'd), 5:55 p.m. - It's raining heavily when we finally get back to the main road, and there's thunder and lightning happening all around us. We wait for a long time in the shelter of a shop beside the road, but there are no buses, and despite our best efforts, we cannot coax any of the very few passing private vehicles to stop.
Waiting with us in the shelter of the shop is a policeman with a motorbike. He is waiting for a break in the rain before continuing his journey back into town. When the rain finally does ease off, Ah Feng goes with him to see if she can rustle up a taxi.
6:45 p.m. - Ah Feng returns with the taxi. The taxi driver turns the car around, I get in, and off we head towards the county capital, Jingshan. Pretty soon the heavens really open up. Visibility is nil, and the road is like a river. I wonder if we will ever make it alive. But eventually we do, and our driver delivers us to the best Jingshan has to offer: the two-star Jingshan Hotel.
Cold, wet and dirty, we are really looking forward to a hot shower. Unfortunately, the Jingshan Hotel's hot water system is undergoing maintenance tonight. On top of that, half the lights in the room are broken, and we have to hound the hotel staff to supply essential missing items like towels. Frankly, this is a terrible hotel!
Mon 15 Aug 2005 (Day 18), 5:50 a.m. - We awake without the aid of an alarm. Most of our clothes are still wet. At least it's not raining outside.
6:45 a.m. - We check out of the hotel. Now it's raining! We take a three-wheeler, called a mamu by the locals, to the bus station, where we learn that the next bus north to the adjoining prefecture capital of Suizhou does not depart until 8:30 a.m. This gives us time to go across the street and enjoy a bowl of noodles for breakfast. The rain stops while we're eating.
8:35 a.m. - The Suizhou bus departs. The rain comes and goes intermittently.
12 noon - We arrive at the Suizhou New Bus Station. Buses NW from here towards the neighbouring county of Zaoyang seem to be a bit of a problem. Instead of selling us tickets, the ticket seller instructs us to sit down and wait, and she will call us...
12:45 p.m. - Eventually we depart Suizhou on a bus travelling NW. Just under an hour later we get off at Suiyangdian, just before the county border, the confluence 2.6 kilometres south. The surrounding terrain is perfectly flat. It's raining lightly, and rather windy.
We walk south down a dead straight dirt road, rather muddy in places, until the confluence is just 380 metres ESE. The rain stops.
2:55 p.m. - We leave the road and turn down a very muddy trail which runs between some brick buildings in a small village, and then leads out into the paddy fields. There is a family of four playing cards in the doorway of one of the buildings, but they are so engrossed in their game that they pay us no heed whatsoever.
Finding the confluence presents no problems. It is conveniently situated on an embankment between the paddies. The views to the north, south, east and west are all a sea of green. There are a few ponds to the southeast.
Story continues at 32°N 112°E.