19-Jul-2008 -- Story continues from 36°N 120°E.
We get back to the main road just as a bus is approaching, and we are immediately on our way again - not to the next confluence, but to a confluence-free day of rest and relaxation in the seaside resort city of Qīngdǎo (青岛市). We figure we deserve it after 27 confluences on the trot.
After two nights in Qīngdǎo, we feel reinvigorated, and ready to join the hunt once more. Following some overnight storms, there is some flooding on the streets of Qīngdǎo this morning, but the rain has already stopped by the time we make our way on foot the short distance from the Si Fang Hotel to the Sifang bus station, to catch the 7:30 a.m. bus NE to Wéndēng City (文登市). (The brand new bus station directly opposite the Si Fang Hotel is still under construction.)
It takes about four hours to reach Wéndēng, the first hour and half spent trawling for passengers and visiting various different bus stations in and around Qīngdǎo. In Wéndēng, we find the bus that goes south to Hóujiā Town (侯家镇), and are on the road again at 12:10 p.m.
In Hóujiā, with the enthusiastic help of our bus driver, we engage a minivan to take us to the confluence. On the way there, we pass by miles and miles of salt lakes, big mounds of salt covered in blue tarpaulins, and rows of neatly stacked salt carts. Our amicable minivan driver, Mr Yang, informs us that all this land that is currently devoted to salt farming is being systematically filled in for redevelopment. And indeed, we witness some of this redevelopment work in action, and see several large billboards depicting what the area will look like in the future, featuring residential, factory and industrial complexes.
We stop and get out on a small bridge, 12 m SW of the confluence, then take the regulation GPS and north-south-east-west photos from the point itself. The surroundings are considerably different from what Ray Yip and co. saw when they were here two years before. In particular, compare the photos facing east, where what was once a huge expanse of salt lakes is now land under development. It will be very interesting to see what the landscape looks like in another two years' time.
A local from the tiny "village" immediately to the south tells us that the confluence, the village, and everything else, are all part of the Wéndēng Huáshān Salt Company (文登市华山盐场). He also tells us a much easier way to get back to civilisation, by continuing north on the road we're on, which takes us through Xīhǎizhuāng Village (西海庄村) towards Sòngcūn Town (宋村镇).
Story continues at 37°N 121°E.