05-Oct-2004 -- This is the 22nd out of 29 confluence visits on our tour from Germany to China, the story continues from 16N 74E.
Because there is no official border crossing between India and China, all travellers have to fly between those two counties even if they adjoin each other. On October 1st I flew from Mumbai to Hong Kong and from there I made my way as quickly as possible to Guizhou Province. My goal was to follow the same route my friend Peter Snow Cao and I had taken 14 years ago in 1990. See here to read about our first trip to China. Meanwhile we both have Chinese wives and Peter lives in Chengdu, Sichuan, China and is running Bike China Adventures, a bicycle tour company. I have been in China eight times since and six times by bike. Fourteen years ago, we were deeply impressed by China, especially because of the warm-hearted people from the countryside. This time I came back to see the changes. While such cities as Guangzhou have changed completely, the economical leap forward has had much less of an impact to the remote areas in the mountains of Guizhou province. The electrical infrastructure has reached the villages, so you can see satellite dishes on every wooden house on the roof. Cell phones are common everywhere and there are Internet Cafés (which are mainly used by children as video game playground) in every village. But the roads are still gravel and I still faced only a little traffic in the countryside.
Back to my way to the confluence; although I landed in Hong Kong in the evening; I was able to catch a direct bus from Hong Kong's airport on Lantau Island to Guangzhou, reaching the city at 10:30 p.m. I tried to find transportation to take me further, but soon had to put up with spending the night in Guangzhou. The next day I caught a train to a small city called Jingzhou in Western Hunan province near the border to Guizhou province. There I bought a bicycle for 60 Euros and started my bike trip.
On the third day of my bike trip I started in a small village named Panxi in the rural district Jinhe about 60 km southeast of the confluence. The place I had lunch was called Nanming (20 km south of the CP). There something typical for me happened; after having my lunch I headed uphill for 8 km, when suddenly a motor-bike stopped me. First, I thought it might be police for some reason, but in fact it was a nice guy, bringing me my maps, which I had left at the lunch table. I was so happy and overwhelmed from that helpfulness. For him it meant also being one hour on the road, just for giving me my maps. The people in Nanming feared, I might get lost without my maps. He reluctantly accepted 20 yuan for gasoline that I gave him.
In the afternoon, I approached the 27N 109E confluence. From the beginning of this confluence hunt I was already wired. I just stopped at the turnoff from the main road (7.7 km beeline distance from the CP) where I had to turn and look toward a small road, when somebody approached me and asked why I wanted to go down this dead-end. Could he read my thoughts? Well, I tried to give my best explaination of what I wanted to do. But he seemed not to be satisfied with my explanation. Suddenly he said, that he was a policeman and he had to call his colleagues now. I couldn't believe it - not even having started to go for my first Chinese confluence, it seemed to be over already! Well, it turned out, that the policemen didn't understand what I wanted to do either, but, at least let me go after all imaginable questions where asked and my passport was read over three times.
The rough road followed along a river 14 km to the dead end. I came through four or five villages with Bajiaoliang being the last with less than 1 km distance from the CP. The villagers were so concentrated in their card-games that didn't take notice of me (which is not usual). But luckily, the minimum distance from the road to the CP was 400 m. From there I conveniently found a footpath up to a beeline distance of 51 m. There I left my bike behind and tried to get a zero reading.
Unfortunately, the point is in a steep jungle-grown terrain. I managed to come as close as 16 m with getting a lot of scratches all over my body. On my way back, just 500 m from the CP, the policemen were waiting for me. They seemed to feel insecure with a foreigner doing something that they didn't understand. But in the end, I was able to take a picture of the responsible policeman. Then they followed me the rest of the 14 km back in their police car until I was back to the main road. Just for my safety of course.
Just as twilight arrived, I reached the village Tonglin and spent the night there.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 3:40 p.m.
- Duration: 3h 15 (until I was back on my route)
- Distance of bike parking: 51 m
- GPS height: 624 m
- Description: In the mountains of eastern Guizhou province. Half way up a densely forested mountain. Conifer forest with dense undergrowth, tendrils, ferns. Down in the valley some small rice fields.
- Given Name: The Police Escorting Confluence
Story continues at 27N 108E.