24-Jan-2004 -- 39 N – 115 E Hebei Province, China
Visit Date: January 24, 2004
Completed visit by the Yip-Bannicq Group (Sierra Yip-Bannicq, Florence Bannicq, Ray Yip and Oreo) and Yves Faucampré . Yves is a master in GPS navigation. Without any Chinese language proficiency, Yves went from Beijing to the most extreme western corner of China, near Tajikistan, using only a GPS and a map as a guide – a trip of 4000 km one way. For most expatriates in Beijing, going out over 100 km is often a challenge.
This is our 2nd confluence visit during the Chinese lunar New Year (Spring Festival) holiday period. On our way to 39°N and 116°E we had passed the road leading to the Western Qing Tombs on January 23. Given this was a site we had meant to visit for almost 2 years, the day was planned based on line hunting for 39N and 115E, which is about 30 km from the Qing Tombs and checking out the Tombs on the way back.
The drive to the point was almost too straight forward, partly because we had learned which was the best route to take to get out of Beijing from the previous day hunting trip. It took little over one hour to reach Bao Ding, the major town off the freeway. From there, there is a well- paved highway going all the way close to the confluence point into the hilly part of the western province.
When we reached 115E on the highway we could tell that the point was about 1.5 km south but on the other side of a series of small mountains. Hiking to the point could be feasible but not necessary an easy task. As it turned out, there is a village about a half -kilometer up the road and there is also a small road leading from the village to the other side of the mountain where the confluence point is located. We were able to drive on this small road to about 300 meters from the point.
The confluence point is located on a western facing slope and it is part of an orchard planted with pear and apple trees. Sierra lead us to the exact location, which is on a 45 degree slope with loose rocks, not the easiest place for all of us to gain a good foothold for a group photo. Overall, this was as straight forward a hunt we ever did. It was most fortunate there was this road through the village which come very near the point.
The nearest village we drove through to reach the orchard area is called Yi Man Cun. It is a charming and colorful mountain village with 900 households scattered in several hamlets. Because it was the Spring Festival period, there were many people just hanging around enjoying the sun and we learned a bit what life is like in such place.
After the brief visit of the village, we started heading to the Western Qing Tombs and this turned out to be a bigger production than expected. Unlike the road we had taken to reach the confluence point, which was relatively straight and well paved, this was an unpaved mountain road. The straight line to Western Qing Tombs according to the GPS was 30 km, but we drove over 75 km and took almost 3 hours. We passed many small mountain villages and we did not see many signs of modern development. The winding drive in itself was a great treat.
We reached the Western Qing Tombs in the late part of the afternoon and we were only able to view a little of the area quickly. The entire Western Qing Tombs complex, the burial site of several most famous emperors of the Qing Dynasty occupied 800 square meters of hills and forest and we witnessed very few visitors. It is definitely a place to return in the warmer season for a two days visit.
The hunting party returned to Beijing in the dark. We are thankful to the Confluence Project for motivating us to spend 2 days outdoors during this 5 days holiday. As usual we found several points of interest that we would not have visited otherwise. Two hunting trip in two days makes Oreo a tired dog.