Justin, Raj, Sebrina, Madison, Flora, and I left Beijing around 8:00pm to visit this confluence. Our plan was to drive 5 hours to Jining (集宁) and sleep there before driving the final 2 hours north to the confluence, near Xinmin (新民).
After crossing into Hebei, we were low on gas and started looking for a place to fill up. Every place we stopped either sold diesel only or had run out of petrol. After failing to find gas at three stations, the low fuel indicator came on. At the Hebei/Inner Mongolia border toll, we asked where to get gas and they directed us to do a U-turn back to Hebei and visit the first town we got to (Huai’An).
After filling up in Huai’An, we had to go back to the Hebei/Inner Mongolia border toll. It was past midnight, but we felt confident that we could make it to the hotel soon, now that we had gas. Twenty minutes later though, traffic came to a complete stop. There was a line of shipping trucks stretching as far as we could see with their engines stopped and their drivers sleeping.
We walked around for about an hour and then tried to get some sleep from 3:00am until around 7:00am when the traffic started moving again. We paid a $20 toll for the privilege of taking this road.
Around 9:30am, we arrived at our hotel in Jining, checked into our rooms, and got some rest for the confluence, agreeing to depart at noon.
After lunch, we packed up the mini-van and started driving north on the Baiji Expressway, which eventually changed to G208. At Xinmin, we took a left on the first road past the gas station and drove into town. The paved road soon turned into a dirt track that led west through an underpass through the train tracks.
From here, it was a network of dirt paths that we managed to navigate in with our FWD mini-van and Justin’s driving skills. The dirt paths seem to mostly connect some houses back to Xinmin. On the way to the confluence point, we saw what looks like a major highway under construction less than a kilometer from the confluence point. We think this will probably be an extension of the Baiji Expressway.
About 500m from the confluence, we decided to park the van and continue on foot. There were some big hills, but it would be possible to drive around them all the way to the confluence in dry weather.
On the way back, we had a minor incident when we pulled the van off the dirt track to let an oncoming car pass. When we tried to drive back onto the track, the van bottomed out and got stuck. Everyone but Justin got out of the van and he was able to reverse out of trouble.
The next morning, temperatures were below freezing, the wind was gusting, and there was a growing layer of snow on everything. It was one of the earliest snows in Beijing in recent memory, and the biggest snow I’ve seen in my three years living in Beijing. Surprisingly, there weren’t any traffic jams like the one on the way from Beijing to the confluence point. Six and a half hours after leaving Jining, we arrived back in Beijing.