07-Jul-2008 -- Story continues from 34°N 114°E.
We take the 9 a.m. bus east from Xǔchāng to Tàikāng County (太康县). The bus does not go into Tàikāng proper, but instead drops us off on the main highway outside of town, and we endure the most harrowing 3 km ride of our lives, on a bumpy road in a tuk-tuk with absolutely no shock absorbers. To make matters worse, I pull a hip muscle getting out of the tuk-tuk, and am now in excruciating pain whenever I turn the wrong way.
At the Tàikāng bus station, we find a bus ready to depart for Mǎchǎng Town (马厂镇), some 13 km to the SE. The confluence is a further 3.7 km south of Mǎchǎng, requiring another tuk-tuk ride, this time thankfully on a smooth road. We take a dogleg to the east before continuing south, until we reach a turnoff 700 m SE of the confluence. At first we ask the tuk-tuk driver to turn west down this dirt track, but it immediately proves too muddy, due to the light rain that has been falling all day, so we decide to disembark there at the corner.
We now have two choices: walk west along the muddy dirt track, and approach the confluence from the south, or walk north back up the main road, and approach the confluence from the east. We elect the second option, because the sealed road looks a lot more inviting than the slippery, muddy track.
There are a couple of shops at the corner, and we arrange to leave our backpacks there, then set off up the road. When we are about 570 m east of the confluence, we leave the road, and head across an expanse of wheat-cum-cornfields.
We find the confluence just on the edge of a village, the name of which we later learn is Wángzhuāng (王庄村). In fact, the confluence point itself is located right at a small table made from slabs of cement supported by stacks of bricks. The lady who lives in the house just to the NW of the confluence tells us that the table is used by local children as a place to hang out and chat on hot days, in the cool shade of the surrounding trees.
We take the GPS and north-south-east-west shots, then head back the way we came, across the fields to the main road, then down the road to the corner shops. The people at the shops are keen to see the photos we've taken, although they're a bit bemused by the subject matter of most of them.
Story continues at 34°N 116°E.