06-Jun-2006 -- Story continues from 30°N 110°E.
We arrived in Ēnshī (恩施市) at 6:45 p.m., and immediately set off in another small car west to the capital of the neighbouring county, Lìchuān (利川市), arriving there at 8:45 p.m. We had a bowl each of húntún (dumpling soup) for dinner, then hired the same car to take us all the way to the town of Máobà (毛坝乡) in the south of the county, from where the confluence was just 5 kilometres SW.
The supposedly fabulous guesthouse that our driver fixed us up with was anything but, but never mind.
Tuesday 6 June 2006 (Day 7)
This was Ah Feng's birthday, as measured by the Chinese lunar calendar (11th day of the fifth month), and so the first order of the day was to present her with the birthday card I'd kept well hidden up until then. Her present would have to wait until we were back in Hong Kong.
We left the guesthouse at around 8 a.m., and immediately encountered a contingent of police who were coming looking for me. They took us both back to the police station to register. This was our third encounter with the police in as many confluences, and it was starting to get more than a little tedious.
To make matters worse, it was obvious that the officer in charge had never registered a foreigner before. After sitting in the waiting room for ages, we decided to go off in search of him, and found him seated in front of a PC, with a mobile phone to his ear, repeatedly asking some unseen person for instructions.
Total time wasted at the police station: one hour.
Following this ordeal, we wandered through the centre of the small town of Máobà. It was obviously market day, with lots of activity. There were many photo opportunities, including a cute little girl being carried in a wicker backpack. I bought some steamed buns for breakfast as several curious locals looked on.
We found the turn-off to the village of Xiánfú (咸服) on the other side of town, and got on the back of a tray-top passenger truck heading that way. At 9:50 a.m. we got off, together with several other passengers, at a small collection of houses opposite a corn field. The confluence was 677 metres WNW.
From here, we walked up past the houses, wound our way along little paths through tea plantations, and then continued upwards into the mist-enshrouded hills. The confluence point was located at the top edge of a corn field on a steep slope. There was thick scrub above the corn field, but fortunately we didn't have to venture into this to get a zero reading. Accuracy was not very good: only 29 metres. We took the requisite photos facing north, south, east and west, then headed down again, arriving back at the road at 11 a.m.
Earlier, we'd noticed a small tea factory about 500 metres back along the road towards Máobà, so we decided to go and check it out. There were several workers inside, busy with various stages of production. The floor was covered in raw leaves awaiting processing. The aroma was very pleasant. Ah Feng bought two packets of tea.
We continued walking back along the road to Máobà. A number of passenger vehicles went by us heading in the opposite direction, towards Xiánfú, but none heading our way. At about the halfway point however, a kind motorcyclist came along and offered us a free lift back to our guesthouse, where we collected the rest of our belongings. He also organised for a small passenger vehicle to take us south to Huángjīndòng (黄金洞乡), the first town across the county border in Xiánfēng County (咸丰县). We left just after midday.
Story continues at 29°N 108°E.