25-Dec-2005 -- This confluence was visited during a family trip from Haikou (海口) to Sanya (三亚). At the previous day, the team, consisting of 9 family members and a driver gathered in Haikou and headed south spending the night in Xinglong (兴隆). On the ‘confluence day’ we all visited the famous Xinglong Botanic Garden where an amazing variety of tropical plants is exhibited. Interestingly, the daily crowds visiting the park all come in groups that follow a certain small loop – the remaining 9/10th of the park are totally empty but even more exciting. However, we spend half the day in the park and it was already past noon, when we decided to hit the road to Sanya. At this time, I made the suggestion that we could visit a confluence point on our way – well knowing that we wouldn’t make it to the point anyways. But I thought that even an attempt could be fun. The reason why I didn’t have any hope to make a complete visit was that the experienced Confluencer Peter (who couldn’t make it in one day) suggested planning 2 days for it – and we had only half a day left. Additionally, he mentioned blood sucking leeches, dense vegetation and difficult terrain in the area. Keeping in mind that our team members were between 8 and 79 of age and confluence freshmen, I expected an abrupt ending of the enthusiasm when facing the first obstacle. The funniest thing was that I wasn’t prepared at all: we didn’t carry a map with grid lines on it. However – we made it.
The beeline distance from Xinglong was 39 kilometres. To most team members, a visit to the confluence seemed to be an easy task and a minor deviation on our way to Sanya. The group knew about my passion for confluence points and initially complied with a visit for the sake of making me happy. But as soon as the hunt started, I clearly could see a rising level of enthusiasm in the group. Those sitting in the front raw of our little bus carefully watched the arrow on the GPS with a frequently changing mood, depending on how good the current bearing was in our destination. All others often found reasons to make stops and ask the locals for directions.
It finally became clear, that we couldn’t get straight to the confluence, but make a 50km deviation via the town Yingen (营根). From there we followed a bumpy road that made the children jump and laugh in the back row, while the driver got more and more concerned about the state of his car. In Zhongping (中平) at a remaining distance of 10km we were advised by local people that our car couldn’t make it further in our direction. The only way to proceed was on the back of motorcycles because the road ahead was in harsh conditions. After a short briefing we decided that only a part of the group should go, while the others would stay in the little town Zhongping.
On the back of 3 motorcycle taxis, three of us hit the road. But we didn’t get very far: only after 1km had passed, one bike had a flat tyre. Luckily another empty motor-cycle taxi came along and we could continue immediately. Little by little some hope was rising that we actually could make it – but we were pressed with time. Certainly, I was not amused by the chauffeurs enjoying cigarette breaks on the way. But at this stage, I only could pretend patience and see what was happening. Progress on that difficult road was slow – at the worst parts the passenger had to get off the bikes and walk while the bikes were steered through the mud.
With two hours of daylight left, we finally reached the final tip that could be mastered on wheels. The place was called Chang Liu Shui (长流水) which means ‘always flowing water’. Soon we were surrounded by the people from the village, who belong to the Miao minority (pictures #8, #9). Due to the remoteness of their village the number of visitors is limited and the local’s curiosity towards non-residential guests was expectedly high.
Now the hiking part started. With only 650m to go, this seemed to be an easy task. Such a distance can be managed on foot in 2 minutes under optimal conditions, but can also be insomuch cumbersome that one’s stamina gets utilised. This time the latter was the case. Although a crowed of people from the village came with us showing the clear willingness of guiding us, we didn’t get on the right paths. Too many people slow things down, i.e. with otiose discussions on which way to take. However, after our path went up a steep grade, the group got smaller until a core of 10 people remained. One farmer, the self-appointed leader of our team, always ignored my suggestion to keep to the left. This way we orbited the confluence in difficult terrain always staying away 300m from the confluence. Finally, we reached his mountain inn. He opened the door and offered us a sit in. I had a hard time to convince the group that we wouldn’t make it to the point, if we don’t continue our trip now. Following my suggestion, the tea break was called off, but therefore the group leader got out his machete and started to sharpen it at a grindstone. Five minutes later, we finally continued. Latterly we didn’t follow any path and the machete enjoyed excessive use. The remaining distance decreased very slowly and the majority was about to give up just 180m away from our goal. Using some psychological tricks and motivation I managed the whole group to continue.
Finally, we made it. An overall euphoria erupted with handshakes, hugs, photo sessions and the realisation that all the endeavours were now a thing of the past. With a party going on at the confluence the documentation was quite a difficult task. I finally managed to take photos of the cardinal directions without traces of our festivity.
The way back was – as always – much easier. In just 15 minutes we were back to the village, where the motorcyclists were impatiently waiting for our return. In the wink of an eye they brought us back to Zhongping in order to avoid a dangerous ride through the darkness. After our family reunion in Zhongping we hit the road to Sanya without delay, arriving in Sanya at 20:30 and being ready for a huge dinner.
CP visit details:
- Time at the confluence: 17:00 p.m.
- Duration: 8 hours
- GPS height: 470m
- Distance to the next village: 650 m
- Description: In the remote highlands of Hainan Island. Deep forests in mountainous terrain. Mixed vegetation with high grass, bushes and little trees. Rubber plantations nearby.
- Given Name: The Machete Grinding Confluence