26-Mar-2004 -- Having spent the previous two weeks working in Xining, the capital city of Qinghai province, I was keen to get out into the countryside and attempt this point.
Brian Goldstein, a colleague fluent in Mandarin, arranged a vehicle and driver, Mr Jiang. Brian didn't even try to explain what what this crazy foreigner was trying to do, he just said it was important and asked that he follow my directions.
So, with no verbal communications and only a strong smell of garlic between us, we set off westwards from Xining at 8:50am. With a plane to catch in the early afternoon we had until 10:30 to find the point before we had to return to Xining.
The road (the famous Silk Road, one of the oldest trade routes in the world) was in excellent condition so we made good time, passing through the town of Huangyang after about 40km. We continued on the main road and started to climb through the mountains, through a series of well constructed tunnels and picturesque views fit to rival any European alpine scenes.
About 20kms from Huangyang I noticed that the GPS plot was showing we'd turned to the south and west so I asked Mr Jiang to stop whilst I consulted the map. Although the scale was inappropriate for close in work, I decided we'd made a wrong turn and so we turned back to Huangyang. We gave Brian a call from there and, at my request, he asked Mr Jiang to to follow the railway line westwards. (One of the numerous good things about China is that mobile communications work just about everywhere!). Mr Jiang knew where the other exit from the town was and we were soon on our way again.
There being no further complications, we located 101 degrees east at the roadside at 10:30am, just past the 81km (from Xining) marker. Ironically right beside the only roadside construction for many kilometres (a gas station), this point is 6.5 minutes (12.16km) south of 37 degrees north.
At 3,000m ASL, around 0 degrees and quite hazy, the views and conditions at the site were less than perfect. Couple this with an unfamilarity with the self timer of my camera and the photos were not good.
With no time to spare, it was not feasible to investigate whether we could get closer to the CP. The valley was wide and flat at this point and there was a village nearby, so I suspect somebody armed with good language skills and at least several hours could get most, if not all, of the way to the CP.
We arrived back at the hotel in Xining at noon, just in time to check out. By this stage Mr Jiang was quite the expert in GPS operation and very keen to accompany me on an attempt to another CP SE of Xining I'd shown him on the map. I hope that we both have the opportunity one day.
[Many thanks to my Australian CP-bagging colleague Bassett Smith for the loan of his GPS.]