14-Jul-2011 -- This is the 18th out of 20 confluences that I reached on my bicycle trip along the Great Wall of China. The story starts at 41°N 115°E. The previous report is 40°N 104°E.
As usual I had an early start at 5:20 AM from the town Yǎbùlài (雅布赖镇) with a beeline distance of 81 km to the confluence. At 10:30 AM I reached the town Hóngshāgǎng (红沙岗镇) near the intersection to road no.307 that goes to the confluence point. Here I suddenly felt exhausted due to the upcoming midday heat. The previous day I had cycled 220 km and my odometer for today showed already 75 km. So I spontaneously did something I hadn’t done on this trip so far: I hitchhiked. Soon a truck with watermelons stopped and offered to take me for the remaining 37 km to the confluence. The distance decreased down to 3 km. Here I should have got off the truck! But instead, I followed my driver’s advice to go ‘a little’ further by staying in the truck and accompanying him to his house in the oasis Bāyīn Gāolè Gāchá (巴音高勒嘎查). He was sure that his house would be located very near to the place that I was pointing at. So we stayed on the road for a long while. I saw my GPS device showing 5 km, 6 km, 7 km, 8 km and at a distance of 9 km we finally turned into the side road. Shortly after, we reached his house (8.8 km), where I unloaded my bike. I was donated a water melon (that I really appreciated!) and when leaving his yard, I got a flat tire from the thorns that some plants had.
Having fixed the tire and finally saying farewell, I had two options for the final confluence attack: to either take the southern route in a big loop through the oasis Bāyīn Gāolè Gāchá or go back to the 3 km distance location at the main road. I opted for the first alternative, which later turned out to be a mistake. I only came as close as 6 km when a barrier appeared in front of me. I didn’t want to get involved in discussions or lengthy procedures for permissions, so I decided to go back all the way (6 km + 8 km + 9 km = 23 km) to the 3 km distance point. This big loop around took another hour. If I hadn’t hitchhiked and cycled instead, I would by the time already have captured the confluence point.
To my surprise, there was a track to the confluence (at the 3 km distance point), but I decided to not risk another flat tire. So I hid my bike under a bridge near a wind park. Then I started hiking over flat terrain, always following the track.
The confluence is actually in less than 1 km distance from the oasis in the south. There is a fence just 20 m from the confluence point – I was lucky that I came from the north and didn’t have to cross it. There are some scattered greens between the mixture of sand and stones that make up the ground cover. To the north, the wind park and some industrial facilities can be seen near the main road. At the horizon are some mountains in the otherwise flat terrain.
I walked back to my bike, and continued riding to the town Ālāshàn Yòuqí (阿拉善右旗) where I stayed the night.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to an asphalt road: 3 km
- Distance to a road: 3 km
- Distance to a track: 40 m
- Distance of parking the bike: 3 km
- Distance to houses: 1050 m
- Time starting the hike: 4:00 p.m.
- Time at the CP: 4:35 p.m.
- Measured height: 1360 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 0 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 5 m
- Topography: flat, slight incline to the south
- Vegetation: scattered tiny bushes
- Weather: sunny, 38° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In the Province Gānsù right at the border to the Autonomous Region Inner Mongolia, desert. Surrounded by human infrastructure (an oasis to the south, industry to the north)
- Given Name: The Watermelon Truck Confluence
Story continues at 39°N 101°E.