Last weekend, we decided to visit 37°N 113°E. Information on this confluence was pretty scarce, so we used Google Earth to draw a path along what looked like a river valley and loaded it into a hand held GPS.
The group included Raj, Nizar, and myself. We left Beijing on the high-speed train to Taiyuan early Saturday morning. In Taiyuan, we grabbed some lunch and caught a taxi to the Jinnan Bus station and purchased tickets to Yushe, the nearest town to the confluence.
On the bus, everyone was curious why we would want to visit their small town (pop 150,000). Two hours later, we were in Yushe.
When we got off the bus, it was like the Beatles had landed! A crowd gathered to see us and find out what we were doing there. We went into a convenience store to get some water for our hike and were followed into the small shop by some curious onlookers.
When we walked out of the shop, even more onlookers had gathered. We self-consciously found a cab to take us closer to 37, 113. We asked the driver to take us to the train station. We knew that the train station was about 3km south of town, but 37, 113 was about 6km. The taxi followed the main road south out of town, to the train station. When we got to the train station, he started to slow down, but we asked him to just keep going straight. I can only imagine how curious he was about where we were going.
About 3km past the train station, in the middle of nowhere, we asked him to drop us off. Visibly surprised, he stopped and let us out at the side of the road. He drove away slowly, watching us, as we found a dirt path through the roadside farms to get closer to 37, 113.
The Last 4km
We followed a dirt path through farms of corn and past large rock formations. The path soon connected with a paved road which led through a very small village. Later, we found that the paved road running north-east actually connects with the major north/south road the taxi had taken us on. We could have had him continue south a bit farther and then turn left on this road. The village seemed mostly deserted other than some elderly people sitting and chatting. They seemed surprised to see us walking through their village, but said nothing to us.
Once we got past the village, the road became a wide dirt path again and the nice scenery resumed. We walked another 4km with a stream on our right and goats grazing. The path I'd drawn in Google Earth before we left matched exactly with the path we followed, and it was taking us directly to 37, 113.
We got to within 20m of 37, 113 without even leaving the dirt path. It would be possible to drive a car all the way to this point. From there, we climbed a small rocky hill and got to the exact point our GPS said was 37°N 113°E. We celebrated a bit, surprised at how easy it had been to get there, and then started hiking back.
While we were waiting on the platform for a train back to Taiyuan, we struck up a conversation with one of the station managers. I asked him, "How many foreigners come here per year?"
He replied, "Meiyou" (none).