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the Degree Confluence Project
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China : Sìchuān Shěng

8.8 km (5.5 miles) NNW of Xinsheng, Sìchuān, China
Approx. altitude: 434 m (1423 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 31°S 75°W

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Looking west (left) and east from the Confluence Point / 交汇点以西的景象 #3: Looking south from the Confluence Point and the GPS / 交汇点以南的景象和G.P.S #4: "Walk softly and carry a big stick" - a local at the Confluence Point; Group photo (left to right) Peter Cao, Godspeed and Larry / “怀杖在身,缓行于道” #5: Aqueduct on the way; Larry and his helpers over the hill / 临近灌溉渠,小儿郎及其小帮手 #6: We were greeted by crowds where ever we stopped - Godspeed (left) and Larry / 我们所过之处皆是众人的焦点 #7: Larry (left) and Godspeed seeking advice on the best route to the Confluence - helping hands pointing the way / 借问吾点何处去? #8: On the Trail:  Help from the local boys and Godspeed tackling the trail / 助人最乐 #9: Godspeed and Larry on the road to the Confluence - Godspeed cycling on the single track through the bamboo grove / 踏车乡间行 #10: Godspeed loading the bikes on top of the bus - Larry celebrating reaching the Confluence / 搬车之苦及田园之乐

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  31°N 105°E  

#1: Looking north from the Confluence Point / 交汇点以北的景象

(visited by Peter Snow Cao, godspeed540 and Xiaoerlang "Small Boy" Larry)

Chinese Narrative

15-Feb-2003 -- This is the second of forty-two confluences to be documented in Sichuan. Attendees were "Xiaoerlang" (Small Boy) Larry, Godspeed Wood, and Peter Snow Cao (scribe and photographer). This was Godspeeds inaugural Confluence Point, Larry’s second, and Peter’s eighth. Larry enjoys nature and adventure, Godspeed is a student and guide, and Peter runs Bike China Adventures, a China bike tour company.

This was my first confluence since the six-confluence trip up the Yangtze River (beginning with 31°N 111°E) with Targ Parsons, and Richard Jones at the beginning of Chinese New Year.

Our objective, 31°N 105°E, is about 100 km east of the center of Chengdu. Road distance is probable closer to 120 km. While I would prefer to cycle to these confluence points, the distance is too great and time too short, so we cheated a bit (a big bit, actually) and took a bus.

Larry met me at my house a 7:05, ten minutes early he said to offset the last time when he was ten minutes late. "Now I’m even," he said with a laugh. Godspeed agreed to meet at the bus station on the north side of town, closer to where he lived. On the ride there, Larry commented that he enjoyed cycling early in the morning before the bike traffic in Chengdu gets heavy and slows him down. It was still dark when we met, Larry’s time of day.

We met Godspeed at 7:40 AM and got the local bus to Zhongjiang about 90 km away. We had to take the local bus because it has a rack on the top for the bikes. The regulars assured us it was a two-hour ride. The bus left right after we got the bikes on the top, so we were excited to get such a good start. However, there were only about eight people on a thirty-passenger bus which was not a good sign. The drivers make money when the bus is full, so the driver cruised along the road to Zhongjiang at a snail’s pace trying to fill up the bus.

It is always difficult to predict what the weather is going to be like in Chengdu, since it is overcast most of the time due to the high mountains surrounding the Sichuan basin. Official sunshine rate is 28%, but it is grossly overstated. However, we were in luck today as an outline of the sun made an appearance. Godspeed, a native of Chengdu, pointed at it and asked with a grin, "What’s that?"

The road was flat and level for the first 40 kilometers, then we started climbing up a long hill. There were at least ten switchbacks before the bus reached the top and we cruised along the ridge, like many roads in China. Godspeed commented that it would make a terrific road to cycle.

At long last, we reached our destination, three hours later. It was 11 AM and we were all ready to eat a horse. No horses were on the menu, so we settled for three huge bowls of noodles instead.

It was great to get finally get started cycling. The GPS indicated we were 30 km east of the confluence, as the crow flies. Getting on the right road to the nearest town was easy. But the road varied from great to pretty bad. Larry was having difficulties with his bike and we stopped at a house with tires hanging in the trees, the China sign for bike repair.

The elderly couple were holding down the shop for their absent son and helped us fix up Larry’s bike. We did most of the work ourselves, but used their tools and some wire. They said there was no charge which made Larry happy.

We continued east to Xiping, a small town that was having its market day. I always ask the way at every corner and the locals pointed to the right. Larry was ahead and missed the turn to Gujing so Godspeed raced after him. When they returned, there was a large crowd around us wondering what brought us to their town.

Continuing east, we cycled along a picturesque river with mud brick houses and small flocks of ducks. Arriving in Gujin (meaning "Old Well" in Chinese), the town closest to the confluence point, we inquired where a small village on the map was that appeared to be closest our objective. We were 3.5 km away. However, finding someone who knew anything about it was challenging. Fortunately, the crowd of people we attracted insured there was a large pool to poll. The consensus was that the village was accessible up the road about two kilometers. The area was hilly, but the sun was shining are our spirits bright.

A likely looking dirt road appeared to the right in the direction of the confluence. But we were still 2.4 kilometers away. Not a good sign. The road was rough, but cycling it made it go fast. Unfortunately the road got smaller faster than we hoped and ended up as a foot path at an elderly couple’s house. They were astonished to see us there and kept asking who we were looking for. We were still 1.47 km from the confluence and it was on the other side of the hill.

The man said there was a trail over the hill and pointed up steep path. Larry wasn’t feeling so good and enlisted the help of two boys to help him with his bike. Part of the trail was cut into the rock as we climbed the steepest part. Once near the top covered with terraces currently growing winter wheat, we were able to cycle along the narrow footpaths. Godspeed, our mountain bike guru, was in heaven.

We followed the arrow of the GPS on the most likely looking path leading us down the other side of the hill through a bamboo grove where there was a deep aqueduct spanning the small valley. At the bottom of the hill, we were closing in, but still had 753 meters to go, on the other side of the next hill.

We asked a resident if there was a path to the other side, and he assured us there was. We skirted around a small lake, and cycled and walked up through the saddle between the hills. The arrow on the GPS was following the path with remarkable consistency and the distance to the confluence was dropping fast. Up over the saddle cycling on a good single track. On the other side of the second hill and entering the third valley we found the confluence point about 20 meters off the path in the middle of a winter wheat field.

Godspeed brought his bike to the point for a photo while Larry wandered amidst the winter wheat overjoyed to have finally arrived. As we were taking victory photos with the bikes, and a villager came padding down the path in cotton and grass shoes with a tree on his shoulder adding new meaning to the phrase, "Walk softly and carry a big stick." He gave us a funny grin and continued on his way.

As usual, getting back was much easier as there was a small dirt road in the valley. About one kilometer we hit blacktop again and then rode to the main road to wait for a bus. It was about 5 PM, and transportation was drying up fast as this was the last day of Chinese New Year, traditionally celebrated with family members around a large meal. I had told my wife I would try to be home by 6 PM for the dinner, but it was looking all but impossible.

We jumped on a bus (after throwing the bikes on top) to Santai, about 15 km further east. There, we scoped out transport back to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. This is normally not a problem. We found a big air-con bus that was leaving in 30 minutes at 6 PM. The driver said he couldn’t fit the bikes on the bus, but we showed him that we could take them apart and store them in the baggage compartment under the bus.

So we wandered around getting food and the like. Getting back just before 6 PM, the driver told us his bus was cancelled because there were too few people and the ticket sellers said the next bus to Chengdu would be tomorrow morning. So we found yet another bus going to Mianyang northwest of where we were, but with better connections to Chengdu. Again we had to convince the driver we could fit the bikes under the bus and we were on our way.

Arriving in Mianyang at 7:30 PM it was dark, and the bus station had no buses going to Chengdu. But there was another bus station about a kilometer down the road. A quick re-assembly of the bikes, cycle down to the other station, and then again dismantling and storing the bikes underneath.

During the ride to Chengdu, we passed small towns and villages where many people were shooting fireworks to celebrate the holiday. We arrived back in Chengdu at 9 PM and I got home at 9:30.

Chinese Narrative

15-Feb-2003 --   “但愿人长久”——元宵节探点记     二OO三年二月十五日

二零零三年二月十五日(农历正月十五元宵节)曹雪磊(队长,记录兼摄影),伍士凌和我决定向北纬31度和东经105度交汇点挑战。曹队长系土木工程专业出身,长居成都,经营自行车旅游事业长达五年之久(详情请查其自设网站bikechina.com)伍士凌,个儿不高,一双纤细的长腿却有着惊人的爆发力。十九岁的学生课余兼职向导。成都地属四川盆地,四面高山环绕,一年中只有一百天能享受到阳光,今天可是个难得的艳阳天。目的地是在咱们的东北偏东方向,直线距离97公里。我们在北门汽车站搭乘公交慢车。一般而言,只有慢车才能在老而弥坚的车顶上装上货架运货。八点正,在我们的自行车摆上车顶之后,车子开始向中江出发了。由于乘客稀少,车子以蜗牛般的速度慢行以便邀客。结果两小时的路途走了三小时才到。到达中江,饿慌了的我们在站前的小店狠狠吞了三大碗面。曹队长欣然叹曰:“终于又有车可骑了!”

向东30公里就是我们的目的地。公路在丘陵上蜿蜒起伏,我的老车经不起颠簸,覆泥板跨了下来。曹队长,修车之行家也!稍经调试又能上路了。我平时骑车偏快,骑到西平,正逢赶集,到了该右转的地方没停就往前冲了。士凌兄快马扬鞭追了我回去,但见曹老外已被乡民团团围住,争先恐后抢卖橘子。继续东进,沿着一条风景如画的小河,河边有土砖农舍,水中有群鸭荡漾。终于,找到了最接近我们目标的小镇—-古井,该镇距交汇点却仍有3.5公里之遥。由于地势复杂,地形高低起伏不定,很难判断该怎样选择最近的线路。我们连翻了两座陡峭的山坡却又再次下山绕道而行。我那沉重的铁马可真令敝人吃尽了苦头。可巧这时来了两名可爱又强壮的小朋友,帮着我上上下下远离了艰辛,真乃及时雨也!结果下得马路,犒以苹果两枚,拍照一张并留下姓名以示感激之情。为此,咱们队长还老远追回来说:“赶路要紧,别‘浪费'光阴了!”小儿郎不禁叹曰:“功利主义啊!” 我们舍弃了山路,跨过了深广的灌溉用水渠,又饶过了另一个山坡,三个鞍步(两山之间的连接点),好不辛苦!终于找到了隐藏在小路外20

公尺的冬麦田中那个神不知鬼不觉的“殿”。

找到返回文明的路上似乎总是容易一些。下到马路正好五点,在大城市里还算蛮早,可是在这穷乡僻壤就已是晚到可能赶不上末班车的时刻了。几经周折,在两次拆车装车进出中巴车行李厢之后,才正式搭上由绵阳开赴成都的公车。途中,烟花爆竹之声不绝于耳。雪磊答应爱妻六点的团圆饭早已泡汤,呜呼!鱼与熊掌之取舍实不足与外人道也!其实我想,只要人常能长久,爱心长在,那儿又没有月亮让我们来常相忆呢?

最后,想起趣事一桩与您共享。在咱们即将接近目标之前,有一老农身着棉衣草鞋,肩头扛着一棵碗口粗的树干,蹒跚行走于我们前面的田间小道。这教我们的老曹记起老罗司福总统在90年代初期为了支持被列强殖民欺压的弱小民族,说过的一句名言:

“怀杖在身,慢慢的走吧。”旨在劝慰人们息止喧闹,以实干为内敛。

(有关“探点”运动的起源,请查(31°N,104°E记录后面的说明)


 All pictures
#1: Looking north from the Confluence Point / 交汇点以北的景象
#2: Looking west (left) and east from the Confluence Point / 交汇点以西的景象
#3: Looking south from the Confluence Point and the GPS / 交汇点以南的景象和G.P.S
#4: "Walk softly and carry a big stick" - a local at the Confluence Point; Group photo (left to right) Peter Cao, Godspeed and Larry / “怀杖在身,缓行于道”
#5: Aqueduct on the way; Larry and his helpers over the hill / 临近灌溉渠,小儿郎及其小帮手
#6: We were greeted by crowds where ever we stopped - Godspeed (left) and Larry / 我们所过之处皆是众人的焦点
#7: Larry (left) and Godspeed seeking advice on the best route to the Confluence - helping hands pointing the way / 借问吾点何处去?
#8: On the Trail: Help from the local boys and Godspeed tackling the trail / 助人最乐
#9: Godspeed and Larry on the road to the Confluence - Godspeed cycling on the single track through the bamboo grove / 踏车乡间行
#10: Godspeed loading the bikes on top of the bus - Larry celebrating reaching the Confluence / 搬车之苦及田园之乐
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)