24-Aug-2004 -- Since this is the first confluence out of a 29-confluence hunt, let me tell you a bit about our trip.
In our hometown in Germany, we bought a 1987 Toyota Corolla for 100 Euros via an internet announcement. Nobody could believe that such an old car would make it very far. Guang painted it nicely including the flags and a map of the countries we intended to visit and I got a Carnet des Passages and a bunch of Asian visas for us. August 21st 2004 was the day we started.
Within 3 days we made it through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria (1 CP), to Turkey (2 CPs). After entering Iran we slowed down in order to visit the beautiful cities in Iran, where we met the greatest hospitality. We were invited into people's homes to share dinner with the families.
We also noticed the respect for women in the society and we could hardly share the picture about Iran given in the Western media. We only went to confluences located on our route, but we nevertheless managed to visit 8 CPs in Iran. The next country we came across was Pakistan (3 CPs). Although it is not really recommended to follow the route along the Afghan border, we did so and found it safe with many control posts on the roadside.
In India (7 CPs), driving a car is very stressful while sharing the road with pedestrians, cows, coaches, bicycles, slow trucks and crazy drivers. A maximum of 300 km a day is realistic there, though not without falling into bed immediately due to exhaustion. In Goa we surrendered our car (not because of malfunction, but the border to China is closed for private cars) and flew to Hong Kong.
From there, I made my way to Beijing using different transportation: bicycle, bus, taxi, train and plane. On this route, I came across another 8 CPs. After finishing the trip in Beijing, I returned to Germany by airplane on October 18th 2004.
Out of these 29 confluence visits, 26 are complete, while another set of 26 had never been visited before.
On the third day of our tour we passed thorugh the city of Harmali in Bulgaria. It is located on the main route between Sofia and Istanbul. While driving towards Istanbul we spontaneously decided to go for this Confluence. The beeline distance from this route is only 11 km. We turned onto a country road and came to the friendly and peaceful village Balgarin where we had a huge sweet watermelon. The elderly lady selling them was very nice to us and brought us a knife to cut the fruit.
On a smaller country road we got as close as 400 m, and we approached another 100 m towards the CP on a track. We parked the car at a distance of 300m and walked uphill to the CP following a track to 33 m.
Right now the confluence point is located in a tobacco field. According to the previous visit last year it was uncultivated land. It is a hilly area and there are nice views not far from the CP (as soon as you move out from the tobacco field). There is a village within 1 km distance, but while visiting the CP on that hot August afternoon, we didn't meet anybody.
CP visit details:
- Time at CP: 1:50 pm
- Duration: 1 hour (until we were back to our route)
- Distance of car parking: 300 m
- GPS height: 276 m
- Description: Tobacco field
- Given Name: Great Watermelon Confluence
Story continues at 40N 35E.