11-Jun-2006 -- Story continues from 28°N 107°E.
In the afternoon, Ah Feng went for a stroll around the streets of Zūnyì (遵义市), and came upon a man dressed in ethnic minority costume who was selling various animal parts - antlers, bones, sinew, Chinese caterpillar fungus - to be used as remedies for a range of different ailments.
Meanwhile, I crossed the street from the hotel to the central bus station. A considerable sum of money had obviously been spent to deck the station out with an extensive array of bewildering English signs:
- Stop for the night the register
- Enter to stand
- Sell the Waiting area
- The ticket of jian goes by car
- Please post notice a ticket
- Send guest step
- Trip guest step
- Expensive yang City County
- Sell the ticket area
That last one directed me to the ticket windows where I bought our tickets for the following day, on the 6 a.m. bus east to Shāgōu (沙沟) in Sīnán County (思南县).
Sunday 11 June 2006 (Day 12)
We got up at 5 a.m. and checked out of our comfortable hotel, electing to forego the complimentary buffet breakfast in favour of an early start. We crossed the street to the central bus station and boarded our sleeper bus to Shāgōu.
We arrived in the village of Shāgōu at 11:15 a.m. While waiting for a bus SSW to Zhāngjiāzhài Township (张家寨镇), we had time for a bowl of noodles, and to stroll the main street. It was market day, making for plenty of photo opportunities. In particular abundance were men in enormous hats and babies in backpacks.
The Zhangjiazhai bus arrived at 12 noon. Thirty minutes later we were in Zhāngjiāzhài, only to discover that the road WNW from Zhāngjiāzhài to Kuānpíng Town (宽坪乡) was no longer the main route into the area, and had fallen into disrepair. According to all my maps, the only way to get to Kuānpíng was via Zhāngjiāzhài, however there is now a new road to Kuānpíng that originates from Héxīng Town (合兴乡) in neighbouring Déjiāng County (德江县), along the main highway we'd earlier travelled from Zūnyì.
We weighed up what appeared to be our only two options: 1) bus back to Shāgōu, followed by a bus to Héxīng, followed by a bus to Kuānpíng; versus 2) two expensive motorcycles along the 24-kilometre dilapidated road to Kuānpíng. However, just at this juncture, a minivan showed up, and we were able to negotiate a ride for 100 yuan (US$ 12.50), which although was not cheap, was certainly better than the motorcycle offer, and would save us a lot of time compared to the multi-bus option.
We set off at 12:50 p.m., and at 2:15 p.m. arrived at a point three kilometres beyond Kuānpíng, the closest the road came to the confluence, which was 1.17 kilometres SE. From here, a dirt road led off in what looked to be a promising direction.
We left the minivan and followed the dirt road on foot as it wound its way between people's houses and fields of various crops, first descending, then ascending again, until, 20 minutes later, the confluence was only 130 metres SE. We left the dirt road and headed towards the confluence on a small path between two paddy fields, then through a small pine forest, until we found the confluence in a field of sweet potato, from where I took the obligatory north-south-east-west shots.
Although hidden by trees from the point itself, there was a small house only a few dozen metres SE. From this house, there was a very wide, well-used track back to the dirt road.
Ah Feng rang the minivan driver, who was having lunch in Kuānpíng, and arranged for him to come and pick us up at the same spot he'd left us, and take us all the way to the county capital of Sīnán for 60 yuan (US$ 7.50). On the way, we stopped to pick up some other passengers from a small village between Kuānpíng and Zhāngjiāzhài - this was the actual reason this Sīnán minivan was in the area to begin with. There was a traditional old bridge in the village where we stopped.
Story continues at 28°N 109°E.