19-Jan-2004 -- 33 N – 115 E Anhui Province, China
Visit Date: January 19, 2004
Completed visit by the Yip-Bannicq Group (Ray Yip only), Michael Hsu, and the staff of Anhui Anti-Epidemic Station or CDC (Wang Jiang-Jun, Wang Xian-Yang).
This is the first confluence point visit in the Anhui Province – a province of 65 million people located in central China. This particular point is located very near the Henan Province (10 km), which is the most populous province in China with over 100 million inhabitants. The general area between these two provinces is the epicenter of the AIDS crisis in China, the result of an unsafe plasma collection which took place in the mid-1990’s. The main reason for Ray and Michael’s visit was to assess the AIDS situation in the area. The accompanying health staff from the Anhui government had been told about the Confluence Degree Project during a long car ride and had shown interest. We all had half a day to spare before returning to the capital city of Hefei. This is how the “line-hunt” expedition of January 19 came to be.
The N 33 and E 115 is located in the county of Lin Quan which happens to have the highest number of residents – over 2 million – among the 2000 rural counties across China. The township the nearest to the point is Jiang-Zhai-Zeng, about 8 km from the Henan border. The nearest village is Han-Bao-Shi, which is about ¾ km from the confluence point. Getting to the nearest village of the confluence point was a challenge because this was 3 days before the Chinese lunar New Year, and there were thousands of people crowding the narrow road, very busy doing their last minute shopping fin the road side markets before everything closed down for 10 days during the festival period. The second part of the challenge was the very muddy road way which the result of the recent rain and snow. We decided to abandon the car about 1.5 km before the confluence point because our van was having a difficult time going through the mud. The walk in deep mud was no simple matter either since most of the people in the hunting party were wearing street shoes suited for urban living.
After walking through two villages, we came near the confluence point in an open wheat field, which was planted with winter wheat. Just about 50 meters before the confluence point the GPS ran out of battery, hence the visit to the point required the sharing of batteries between the GPS and the digital camera (2 good ones and 2 dead ones in each device). The risk of not being able to document the visit due to a dead battery was the additional challenge of this otherwise pleasant winter outing.
Overall, it took our party four hours to complete the exercise, not counting the half an hour to remove the mud from our shoes afterward.
I wish to express my deep appreciation to the staff of the local and provincial anti-epidemic station for the vehicle support and for joining us in the hunt. When they realized there were only 13 confluence points in Anhui, they were rather proud of this accomplishment. It was a nice little break for all of us from the rather draining task of working with poor peasants suffering from AIDS.