02-Jul-2014 -- Story continues from 42°N 121°E.
After our third confluence of the day, we returned to the expressway, with Andy talking non-stop in the back seat until finally succumbing to sleep. We checked into a really nice hotel in Kāzuŏ (喀喇沁左翼蒙古族自治县). The room was palatial for 200 yuan per night. Andy made a big hit with the three girls on the front desk. Dinner at the Lánzhōu pulled noodles (兰州拉面) restaurant across the street was excellent.
A plain-clothes policeman was awaiting our arrival back at the hotel after dinner, and asked to see Andy's and my travel documents. (When we'd checked in earlier, the girls on the front desk had registered only Peter's particulars.) The policeman was soon joined by two of his colleagues, one in uniform and the other in plain clothes. The latter was obviously the boss, and appeared very angry with the girls on the front desk. However, after asking to see all of our documents a second time, they were eventually returned to us, and we were left in peace to enjoy the comfort of our suite.
We woke to the sound of intermittent light rain. Some further repairs were necessary to the car's air foil, which was now dangling at a new angle. A twist-tie did the trick this time. We then cruised around town until we found a pancake shop, bought our breakfast, and consumed it en route to the confluence.
On the way, the heavens really opened up. We reached Dàbà Village (大坝村), but then could not find the correct track that led out of it to the confluence. Instead, we parked on the sealed road 300 meters to the north of the confluence. Andy and I donned our raincoats, while Peter, who hadn't brought his, got out his trusty umbrella.
We had 300 metres of cornfields to negotiate. It immediately became obvious that footwear had to be abandoned, due to the soft, sticky soil. Our legs were soon covered in mud. The cornfields were a series of terraces, and every now and then we had to help one another scramble up the slippery slope from one terrace to the next.
Eventually we reached the confluence, took the GPS and north-south-east-west shots, and then a group photo.
In order to avoid the gruelling trek back through the cornfields, Andy and I elected to follow the correct track back to the village, while Peter made a beeline for the car, and drove back to the village to meet us.
The track to the village was easy to walk along at first, but as we got nearer the village, it changed character from a dirt track to a gravel track, which gave the soles of my bare feet a good workout. Andy got a free ride on my shoulders. In the village, some kind locals helped us wash our feet.
Story continues at 41°N 121°E.