This is the third of a three-confluence hunt that begun with 32° N 108° E and continued from 31° N 107° E.
The night was hot, and laying there without an air conditioner or fan I broke out into
a dripping sweat. So I got a fan from the hotel. There was not a mosquito net, so I left
the windows closed. I would rather be hot than bitten.
The next morning the hotel properitress, in the way on most hotels in China, used her
key to open the door without knocking and see if I was awake. Sometimes I think they do
this to see if they can catch their patrons with their pants down. Fortunately, I was
already up and dressed.
Going down stairs for breakfast, my train station friend invited me to join him and his
family for breakfast of rice poridge and sweet potatoes. Then back on the back of a
motorcycle for a three-minute ride to the Tuxi train station. My plan was to take the
train to Nanchong and then a bus to Doufu nearby the confluence.
Taking the train is my second favorite way to travel in China (the first being to
bicycle tour, of course). The trains are relatively smooth, there is a great view through
big picture windows, and a never-ending parade of people passing through the carriages.
When I can, I get a hard sleeper that has one third the number of people as the hard seat
carriages. Each person gets a bed and there are two tables for every six people. This was
not one of those times.
This was to be a two-hour trip and we started out with an empty car. With each stop,
the number of people in the car increased with inevitable seat disputes. Some people had
assigned seats, while others, like myself did not. When someone arrived with a ticket for
a particular seat, the people occupying it are supposed to relinquish it. Not all do so
willing, and the resulting shouting match provides entertainment for the rest of the
In Nanchong, I wanted to buy a new pair of shorts before I went to find the next
confluence, but unlike the areas around most other train stations I have been to in China,
I could not find any clothing shops. So I went directly to the bus station and got a
ticket for Doufu leaving in three minutes. A painless thirty-minute bus ride later, I
deposited at the intersection to Doufu's main street.
This was a very small village, with only one motorcycle taxi driver waiting. I told him
I wanted to go toward Qinghua about 5 kilometers. He quoted me a price I felt was about
three tims more than it should have been. I countered with half that and we settled on
something a bit higher.
As we got closer to the confluence, the GPS pointer started swinging to the right and I
asked the driver to stop while I explained where I wanted to go. I told him I wanted to go
to a point 2.5 kilometers perpendicular to the road and asked him if there were any roads
going in that direction. He said he knew of one and we headed off in that direction and
then turned off the road. The beginning looked like it would work out, but about 500
meters later, it ended and we were further away from the confluence than I was before on
I told my driver to return to the road and go back. I had seen a small bridge at the
point where the distance to the confluence point was the least. We found the trail,
crossed the bridge, and then went another 200 meters before it ended in a tiny village of
ten mud huts. I got off and tried to pay the driver the amount we agreed to, but he
thought he should be paid 50% more for the extra distance. I told him that we did not go
that far and anyway it was his msitake. He continued to complain loudly and a small crowd
of villagers gathered around. I told him to forget it and walked off amidst his weakening
It was hot and I was carrying my full backpack, which even though it was small, it was
more than I felt comfortable carrying. I immediately began a lookout for a hiding place.
In China, when hiding things, one has to be very careful to hide things well because the
people here have eagle eyes: they do not miss a trick.
I was passing through some high grasses beside an orchard along a lightly-used trail
and thought this would be a good spot. I remembered to make a waypoint so I could find it
later. As usual, the confluence was over the hill.
The vegetation was very thick and it cut my feet still very tender from yesterday's
ordeal. The trails were hard to find so I just followed the GPS pointer. When I reached
the top of the hill I could see in the direction of the confluence what appeared to be a
king's tomb; a
grass-topped rounded hill.
Where I was, there was no cultivation, so the paths were few or nonexistant. I could
see small villages below and needed to find a way down. Once in the valley I followed the
pointer toward the "king's tomb" which in reality was just another field. Along
the way I found a small shop and purchased two bottles of water and cookies. The
temperature was very hot: about 37 degrees C.
Again, the pointer indicated the confluence was over yet another hill, but this time I
was determined to find a path, so I asked the local farmers how to get to the other side.
They said there was a small road that led around the hill. I would rather walk along a
road or path a longer distance than use the brute-force method and forge my own path. My
feet and legs were still sore from yesterday's escapades with the thorn bushes.
Around the hill the confluence apeared to lay in on the slope and I followed the
pointer down. The area was full of small, but steep hills.
I could hear the farmers harvesting rice below using a power thrasher. This method is
slowly becoming more common instead of the manual method of beating the rice stalks
against a big wooden box. It appeared the confluence lay close to where the farmers
were harvesting and I headed that way.
Sure enough, when I arrived, the confluence was in a freshly harvested rice field and
lay five meters off the path in the field. It was still very wet and I did not feel like
going through the theatrics and hassle of getting a perfect reading, so I snapped the NSEW
and GPS shots and left it at that. The GPS elevation was 337 meters.
On the way back, I asked the locals about the best way to get back to Duofu. They said
there was a dirt track that led there and one could take a motorcycle twice the distance I
did for half the price I paid to get there.
I was tempted, but I still had to retrieve my backpack and decided to return the way I
came. The locals said there was a trail around the two hills I passed over.
The sun was beating down and the locals asked me to join them for some tea, but I
declined in order to make a hasty return to Nanchong to see about a train to Chengdu.
Returning to where I hid my backpack, I am very glad I put a waypoint at the location
as everything looks the same and I would have a hard time locating it.
Back on the main road, I started walking back to Duofu when my original motorcycle
driver came by with a passenger on back. I flagged him down and asked how much for a lift
back to Duofu. He told me to name a price, so I said half the price of what he charged me
to get there. Before he could respond, his passenger enthusiastically said that was a good
deal, and the driver sourly nodded for me to get on.
Back in Duofu, a local bus was getting ready to depart for Nanchong and 30 minutes
later I was back at the train station to get a ticket to Chengdu, where I live.
The train was nearly empty, and the four hour-ride passed uneventfully, concluding a
successful three-confluence hunt.
I called this the The Rice Thrasher Confluence.