the Degree Confluence Project

China : Sìchuān Shěng

10.2 km (6.3 miles) WNW of Luxi, Sìchuān, China
Approx. altitude: 375 m (1230 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 31°S 74°W

Accuracy: 9 m (29 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Looking East from the confluence #3: Looking West from the confluence #4: Looking South from the confluence #5: GPS #6: Harvesting rice #7: Harvesting time: drying rice stalks, drying rice grains, ducks in heaven #8: Village alley and the King's Tomb hill #9: Peter #10: Sunset

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  31°N 106°E  

#1: Looking South from the confluence

(visited by Peter Cao)

26-Aug-2003 --

This is the third of a three-confluence hunt that begun with 32° N 108° E and continued from 31° N 107° E.

The night was hot, and laying there without an air conditioner or fan I broke out into a dripping sweat. So I got a fan from the hotel. There was not a mosquito net, so I left the windows closed. I would rather be hot than bitten.

The next morning the hotel properitress, in the way on most hotels in China, used her key to open the door without knocking and see if I was awake. Sometimes I think they do this to see if they can catch their patrons with their pants down. Fortunately, I was already up and dressed.

Going down stairs for breakfast, my train station friend invited me to join him and his family for breakfast of rice poridge and sweet potatoes. Then back on the back of a motorcycle for a three-minute ride to the Tuxi train station. My plan was to take the train to Nanchong and then a bus to Doufu nearby the confluence.

Taking the train is my second favorite way to travel in China (the first being to bicycle tour, of course). The trains are relatively smooth, there is a great view through big picture windows, and a never-ending parade of people passing through the carriages. When I can, I get a hard sleeper that has one third the number of people as the hard seat carriages. Each person gets a bed and there are two tables for every six people. This was not one of those times.

This was to be a two-hour trip and we started out with an empty car. With each stop, the number of people in the car increased with inevitable seat disputes. Some people had assigned seats, while others, like myself did not. When someone arrived with a ticket for a particular seat, the people occupying it are supposed to relinquish it. Not all do so willing, and the resulting shouting match provides entertainment for the rest of the passengers.

In Nanchong, I wanted to buy a new pair of shorts before I went to find the next confluence, but unlike the areas around most other train stations I have been to in China, I could not find any clothing shops. So I went directly to the bus station and got a ticket for Doufu leaving in three minutes. A painless thirty-minute bus ride later, I deposited at the intersection to Doufu's main street.

This was a very small village, with only one motorcycle taxi driver waiting. I told him I wanted to go toward Qinghua about 5 kilometers. He quoted me a price I felt was about three tims more than it should have been. I countered with half that and we settled on something a bit higher.

As we got closer to the confluence, the GPS pointer started swinging to the right and I asked the driver to stop while I explained where I wanted to go. I told him I wanted to go to a point 2.5 kilometers perpendicular to the road and asked him if there were any roads going in that direction. He said he knew of one and we headed off in that direction and then turned off the road. The beginning looked like it would work out, but about 500 meters later, it ended and we were further away from the confluence than I was before on the road.

I told my driver to return to the road and go back. I had seen a small bridge at the point where the distance to the confluence point was the least. We found the trail, crossed the bridge, and then went another 200 meters before it ended in a tiny village of ten mud huts. I got off and tried to pay the driver the amount we agreed to, but he thought he should be paid 50% more for the extra distance. I told him that we did not go that far and anyway it was his msitake. He continued to complain loudly and a small crowd of villagers gathered around. I told him to forget it and walked off amidst his weakening protests.

It was hot and I was carrying my full backpack, which even though it was small, it was more than I felt comfortable carrying. I immediately began a lookout for a hiding place. In China, when hiding things, one has to be very careful to hide things well because the people here have eagle eyes: they do not miss a trick.

I was passing through some high grasses beside an orchard along a lightly-used trail and thought this would be a good spot. I remembered to make a waypoint so I could find it later. As usual, the confluence was over the hill.

The vegetation was very thick and it cut my feet still very tender from yesterday's ordeal. The trails were hard to find so I just followed the GPS pointer. When I reached the top of the hill I could see in the direction of the confluence what appeared to be a king's tomb; a grass-topped rounded hill.

Where I was, there was no cultivation, so the paths were few or nonexistant. I could see small villages below and needed to find a way down. Once in the valley I followed the pointer toward the "king's tomb" which in reality was just another field. Along the way I found a small shop and purchased two bottles of water and cookies. The temperature was very hot: about 37 degrees C.

Again, the pointer indicated the confluence was over yet another hill, but this time I was determined to find a path, so I asked the local farmers how to get to the other side. They said there was a small road that led around the hill. I would rather walk along a road or path a longer distance than use the brute-force method and forge my own path. My feet and legs were still sore from yesterday's escapades with the thorn bushes.

Around the hill the confluence apeared to lay in on the slope and I followed the pointer down. The area was full of small, but steep hills.

I could hear the farmers harvesting rice below using a power thrasher. This method is slowly becoming more common instead of the manual method of beating the rice stalks against a big wooden box.  It appeared the confluence lay close to where the farmers were harvesting and I headed that way.

Sure enough, when I arrived, the confluence was in a freshly harvested rice field and lay five meters off the path in the field. It was still very wet and I did not feel like going through the theatrics and hassle of getting a perfect reading, so I snapped the NSEW and GPS shots and left it at that. The GPS elevation was 337 meters.

On the way back, I asked the locals about the best way to get back to Duofu. They said there was a dirt track that led there and one could take a motorcycle twice the distance I did for half the price I paid to get there.

I was tempted, but I still had to retrieve my backpack and decided to return the way I came. The locals said there was a trail around the two hills I passed over.

The sun was beating down and the locals asked me to join them for some tea, but I declined in order to make a hasty return to Nanchong to see about a train to Chengdu.

Returning to where I hid my backpack, I am very glad I put a waypoint at the location as everything looks the same and I would have a hard time locating it.

Back on the main road, I started walking back to Duofu when my original motorcycle driver came by with a passenger on back. I flagged him down and asked how much for a lift back to Duofu. He told me to name a price, so I said half the price of what he charged me to get there. Before he could respond, his passenger enthusiastically said that was a good deal, and the driver sourly nodded for me to get on.

Back in Duofu, a local bus was getting ready to depart for Nanchong and 30 minutes later I was back at the train station to get a ticket to Chengdu, where I live.

The train was nearly empty, and the four hour-ride passed uneventfully, concluding a successful three-confluence hunt.

I called this the The Rice Thrasher Confluence.

 All pictures
#1: Looking South from the confluence
#2: Looking East from the confluence
#3: Looking West from the confluence
#4: Looking South from the confluence
#5: GPS
#6: Harvesting rice
#7: Harvesting time: drying rice stalks, drying rice grains, ducks in heaven
#8: Village alley and the King's Tomb hill
#9: Peter
#10: Sunset
ALL: All pictures on one page