25-Jan-2006 -- 32 N – 117 E Anhui (安徽), China
Line Hunting Date: January 25, 2006
This is the 12th point in Anhui for the group, and it is also the third and last hunt through deep mud before the Chinese New Year (January 29th).
The Low hanging Fruit Confluence point
This is the closest confluence point from Hefei （合肥）, the capital of Anhui, approximately 25 km by GPS distance, located in Feixi County (肥西). In most provinces, the points near the capital would be the first for the group to visit. In this case, it was almost the last.
The Costly Banquet
In April 2004, Ray and Jeremy Wang (members of the first hunt in Anhui – 33N 115E) were within 4 km from this point but had to turn back reluctantly when a urgent call came requesting them to attend an important banquet. Since that time, Ray visited Hefei six times and only until this trip managed to find time to complete the hunt.
A Muddy Hunt
We departed Hefei around 8 am on a cloudy day. The road leading to the confluence point has improved considerably in comparison with the first attempt in 2004. The paved road ended 1.2 km before the confluence point and the unpaved portion was too muddy to drive so we went on foot.
Like the previous two hunts in the week, it was very slow going through a mixture of melting snow and thick mud. For some reason, among a dozen provinces we have done line hunting in, only in Anhui we encountered very muddy conditions. Thus far, 6 points including this one reached in Anhui were under very muddy conditions.
Another water-based confluence point!
This confluence point is located right behind a small village in the middle of a water pond. At the northern edge of the pond, we were about 55 meters from the all zeros point. We went to the southern edge and this put us about 25 meters from the all zeros. Even though the pond appeared to be shallow, with the near freezing temperature, nobody volunteered to venture into the water. For Ray or the Y-B Group, this was the 7th point on water in the last 10 hunts – a 70% average! All these water points were inland, not off the coast.
Bird flu vs. bird poisoning
As we went about getting the required photos for the line hunting, we noticed that there were three dead pheasants in the vegetable patch right next to the pond. We could not help to think of bird flu. In part because Anhui has had a few human cases reported, and moreover Luo Jue is the main guy in charge of disease control in the Anhui province. Just as we were debating on what to do with the dead birds a teenage boy wandered over and he assured us that this was the result of poisoning to keep the birds from eating the vegetables. This saved us from taking one of the dead birds back to Hefei to check for the H5N1 or Avian flu virus.
Targ is famous in Mian Hu (眠虎 - Sleeping Tiger) Village
When we asked the same boy if anybody came here before to take pictures, he immediately said there was a Lao Wei (老外- foreigner）who had come to the same spot this past summer, and he was the first ever foreigner who had visited the village, and he had lunch with one of the family. Later when we passed through the village everybody remembered the visit by Targ Parsons. Clearly, the visit was the most memorable event for the Mian Hu village in 2005.
Last Hunt of the Year
This hunt concluded our hunting season based on the lunar calendar. We started the tradition of confluence hunting two years ago in Anhui right before the New Year and found it to be extra fun and colorful. After a lunch by the road side, Luo Jue and Li Wei dropped Ray off at the Hefei airport. In a couple days when the Spring Festival starts, China will rest for a week, or two in the rural areas.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge: 2– the very muddy trail made it slow going (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
Scenery: 3– a pond behind a village with snow covered roofs (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
Culture-social factors: 2– typical rural central China (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)