20-Jul-2008 -- Story continues from 37°N 122°E.
We arrive back in the county capital of Wéndēng before 3:30 p.m., but the next bus west to Láiyáng City (莱阳市) does not depart until 4:30 p.m. It should go right past the confluence, but will it still be daylight when we get there?
When the bus arrives - it's a sleeper bus - we consult the driver, and learn that the bus will not go right past the confluence, but rather along another route 8 km to the north. Worse, he estimates that it will be dusk by the time we get there.
So we elect to stay on the bus all the way to Láiyáng, 27 km west of the confluence. Under normal circumstances, we would get off near the confluence and find a place to stay, but we are keeping in email contact with Rainer Mautz, who is currently on a bicycling confluence trip in northern China, and he has advised us of a new regulation in force because of the Běijīng Olympics, forbidding foreigners from staying in towns or townships.
We check into the best hotel in Láiyáng, the four-star Hóngdá Lóngmén Grand Hotel (鸿达龙门大酒店), but only after some protracted negotiation on the price, which still ends up being a little steep. We receive an email from Peter Cao in Chéngdū, confirming receipt of the second CD of photos we sent him after completing the 23rd confluence of this trip.
It's raining heavily when we awake the next morning. After enjoying our complimentary four-star buffet breakfast, we take a taxi to the bus station. As expected, it's problematical getting a bus from here east to Fāchéng Town (发城镇). We are told to sit and wait; supposedly one will come some time after 9 a.m.
With the rain still coming down outside, waiting in the dry of the bus station seems our best option, so we do as we're told. At 8:50 a.m., we are summoned and shepherded onto a bus that will go to Fāchéng. It's a Nántái (南台) bus, and is scheduled to depart at 9:10 a.m. We actually "leave" at 9:20 a.m.
The rain is still coming down, although it has eased off a little, by the time we get off in Fāchéng, 1.2 km west of the confluence. Owing to the wind and the rain, rather than walk, we elect to hire a minivan to take us to the spot, which is 330 m NE of the road, behind Xīcàiyuán Village (西菜园村), in the middle of a small patch of peanuts. We're able to park 10 m east of the point.
We get out and make our way through the rain into the small field to take the photos of the GPS and the views north, south, east and west. We then return to the minivan, and leave via the main street of Xīcàiyuán Village.
Story continues at 37°N 120°E.