16-Sep-2006 -- We visited this special geographic point during a bicycle trip from China to Central Asia. The story starts from 32°N 107°E.
After a successful visit of a DCP at 44°N 88°E I met up with my wife Elionora in Ürümchi (乌鲁木齐) in order to continue together with her the bicycle ride to Uzbekistan. The day after our reunion, we decided to make a daytrip from Ürümchi to the Centre of Asia monument which was 26 km beeline from our hotel.
First I should tell the story why the submission of this visit comes 3 years delayed. The reason is that I wasn’t able to retrieve the pictures from my memory flashcard. Four weeks later into the trip, when we were already cycling in Kyrgyzstan, our digital camera had a sudden blackout. Whatever button I pressed, the camera ignored it – until I took off the batteries. When I placed the batteries back into their slots, the functionality of the camera was back to normal. But to my astonishment, the camera claimed that there are “no pictures available”, although I believed to have taken 316 pictures already. My astonishment turned into deep disappointment when I realized that I wasn’t able to recover the pictures. Back home, I asked several photo-shops for help, I also submitted the broken memory card to professional recover-services in Germany and in China. They all returned the card saying that they simply couldn’t do it. A reasonable decision would have been to give up after 10 different attempts. But I kept on trying, because I couldn’t believe that the actual memory chip was broken. A flash card consists of many sensitive electronic parts that could also be the reason for the failure. I tried to retrieve the data myself together with a friend of mine who is an electrician. But at the end it turned out to be too complicated. But I was not willing to surrender, in particular when looking back to several day-long hikes through deserts and climbs on mountains for reaching confluence points. One day, I came across the website http://card-recovery.biz/. It appeared to be professional, so I submitted the card one more time. A week later, they delivered all the pictures to me!
Back to the visit of the Geographic Centre of Asia: We started from Ürümchi at 10 a.m., riding 36 km constantly uphill. The site was signposted and therefore easy to find. You can see the huge monument standing out in the deserted plain from far. It looks like a giant tripod with a plumb line used by surveyors, but a more precise name would be quadpod, since it stands on four legs. This way, the monument suitably appears to be in the shape of a huge “A” for Asia.
At 12:30, we reached the entrance gate, paid a small fee and rode one kilometer along an avenue with statues on both sides towards the official, but also disputed “geographical centre of Asia”. For sure it is the centre of a circle with 200 m in diameter, that incorporates 49 monuments for the Asian countries. How the Xinjiang Geographic Research Institute exactly determined the coordinates, seems unclear to me. Some articles state that it is the place farthest away from ocean (using a special map projection). This definition would be equivalent to finding the centre of the largest circle that completely fits into the Asian continent. I was not able to proof this from measurements in Google Earth. Note that this place is not the only claim of Asia’s geographical centre, e.g. in the Russian Respublika Tyva, there is also a monument, calculated officially by the inside-circle-method as well.
Some notes to the coordinates:
My explanation for the difference of 263 m between my GPS measurement and the official coordinates is that two different geodetic datums must have been used. Since confluence.org uses the WGS 84 (GPS) datum, I entered the official coordinates into my GPS receiver and navigated to it. Picture 1
is taken from that position, facing the monument.
The third set of coordinates comes most likely from a typing or copying error. The inscription of the information board is washed out.
CP visit details:
- Beeline distance from Ürümchi (乌鲁木齐): 26 km
- Biking time (distance): 3 hours (36 km)
- Time at the Centre: 1:00 pm
- Measured height: 1272 m
- Coordinates measured at the Centre: 43° 40’ 29.3”N 87° 19’ 57.0” E
- Official Coordinates: 43° 40’ 37”N 87° 19’ 52” E
- Position accuracy at the Centre: 4 m
- Minimal distance to the Centre: 0 m
- Distance to a public road: 1000 m (from the gate)
- Distance to a village: 1 km (Yaxincun, 亚心村)
- Topography: flat
- Weather: sunny, 18° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the Centre: The Centre is 2300 m from the nearest ocean coast line (measured by Google Earth). It is on a high, dry plateau in China’s North-Eastern Province Xinjiang (新疆), 26 km South-West of the provincial capital Ürümchi.
Story continues at 45°N 81°E