20-Nov-2005 -- PRE PLANNING
We tried to obtain maps of the area but no topographic maps were available. Instead we were able to get a large scale road map (in Chinese) and searches of satellite images on the web showed the confluence to be quite near to what appeared to be a dam. The dam didn't appear on any map information (road or internet) but we did have something to ask the locals for!
07:00 Alarm goes off
07:30 Tom finally gets up. Appear to have a bad case of *stomach problem*
08:00 Stomach still giving trouble
09:00 After trying unsuccessfully to go to the toilet for an hour, Tom agrees that Diah-lite tablets have kicked in and it's time to leave
09:30 Go to wrong bus stn. Get very confused about what is right bus station.
10:00 Find right bus station. Take bus to PuLaoChang - the nearest town to our confluence we have been able to find on road maps.
11:00 Bus drops us off at PuLaoChang. We are immediately invited to a wedding banquet where plenty of help is offered - though none of it useful.
12:30 Manage to excuse ourselves without heading to further wedding celebrations. Take nearest road that heads in the direction of confluence. After questioning several locals it appears this road does not lead to the dam. We turn around and begin to be followed by two young motorcycle wide-boys.
13:00 Motorcycle wide boys assure us they know about a dam and get us to hop on the back of their bikes. We travel through a gorgeous rural valley for 20kms.
13:30 Wide-boys stop for smoke-o and it becomes clear that they have no idea where the dam is, are slightly confused and worried, but agree to do anything for money! We are heading in approximately the right direction and ask them to continue.
14:00 Our road passes within 1.5kms of assumed coordinates of assumed dam. Set off on foot leaving wide-boys to await our return. They grin and giggle as if we're crazy.
14:45 Completely lost in terraced paddyfields we approach a local farmer and ask if there is a dam nearby. RESULT! Suddenly we have a nervous guide carrying an open pen knife whose mother shouts down the mountain after us until we're out of earshot. (We choose to assume she's warning us of the dangers of the track rather than her son of the dangers of the western man)
16:30 After a long, muddy walk through forest tracks we come out at a made road and a dam! Here we are 2.5kms from the confluence. We establish the name of the dam (Hou Shui) and the origin of the road and agree to meet our new friend here again tomorrow when we will hire a boat to cross the dam.
18:30 Return to wide-boys who have gone home. Get another ride in the dark on a pretty precarious road.
19:30 Eat a superb cooked dinner in PuLaoChang served on a heated table. We are in heaven (though we still can't feel our feet!)
07:00 Alarm goes off. Press sleep.
07:05 Alarm goes off. Press sleep.
07:10 Alarm goes off. Press sleep.
07:15 Alarm goes off. Press sleep.
07:20 Alarm goes off. Turn it off.
07:45 Get up
10:30 Arrive at dam. Yesterdays guide, Song Hao and his teachers Yang Bang Qiang and Fan Xin Yang (who fish off the dam wall at weekends) tell us they'd like to accompany us accross the dam to the confluence point though they don't seem to understand at all what it is we're looking for. We have a lot of trouble trying to explain.
11:00 Boat owner appears with oars and we are impressed with his skill as he rows solo around the lake for 5 minutes. His young wife appears with an infant in a basket. It appears he will be boozing in town while she rows the boat. We are a little concerned about a boat loaded with 7 people, no life jackets and 5 non-swimmers.
11:30 Young woman is amazing oarsperson and baby is very cute in basket eating baozi (sticky pork buns).
12:00 We make land fall within 350m of confluence amid ancient tombs (some of which are open) and set out on foot through hilly and forested terrain.
13:30 Arrive at confluence.