23-Jul-2012 -- This is the 15th out of 20 confluence points that I reached on a bicycle trip to the North-East of China. The narrative of the trip starts from 41°N 117°E.
The previous confluence had been unexpectedly become the worst due to rain, wind, darkness, and a broken bike. This point became unexpectedly the nicest of all points on this trip.
An unfinished motorway had not yet been opened for traffic, but riding a bicycle was allowed. Actually, this time was the only opportunity to use this road; a month later after its official opening, bicycles would not be permitted anymore. Without this new motorway which is cut through uninhabited forest, I would have to deviate far to the south, a deviation of almost 100 km.
So I reached a village called Línqiáng (林强村), which has an exit of the new motorway and from where it is 40 km to the confluence point. It was already 16:30 when I got there. When I asked people for a place called Dōnggǔliú (东股流林场) I got the answer that this remote place is too far and it would be impossible for me to reach it within daylight time.
At this point I should note that this confluence point has a unique location: it is located in an almost uninhabited area which is covered entirely with forest. There is hardly any infrastructure and the terrain is mountainous with several wild rivers and steep valleys. But the uniqueness of the confluence is that it is located in the tiny village Dōnggǔliú, where there is nothing but forest around it within a radius of 40 km.
A concrete slab road had just been built to connect Dōnggǔliú with the outside world. And I was able to take it. I had expected that this road would be difficult to ride on and that it would get dark until I would reach the place, but this time everything went better than anyone would imagine. The surface was good to ride on and the road was following a valley so there were no hills to climb. At 18:00 PM I already reached Dōnggǔliú, the sun was still shining brightly. Now I should mention that in such remote places, people are not prepared to see a foreigner coming to their village. Consequently, there is some uncertainty how and if they would accept me as a guest. So in order to not lose the confluence point, I directly approached it without stopping, i.e. before people would recognize me.
It turned out that the confluence point is located in a little field where Jelly Ears are cultivated. These are those dark flabby mushrooms that can be found in many Chinese dishes. The farmers where harvesting the mushrooms when I got there. I got within 50 m with my bicycle and was able to take the pictures before they even noticed me. For me, this was a wonderful confluence visit – image that I had expected to have a long march through the deep, mosquito penetrated forest to reach this point. Instead I was able to visit the point still on this evening.
Now I asked for permission to walk around and take some pictures of the area. It was granted with pleasure and I was able to find the exact location in-between the mushroom fields. The farmers showed me how the mushrooms are cultivated – in little plastic bags filled with saw dust.
The more difficult part came after I had documented the confluence. The whole village came together to see me. I was told that I was the first foreign visitor ever seen in this village. So people invited me to have dinner with them and I was treated like a king. Only the state official had a problem with me, being worried and unsure whether I was allowed to stay for the night. In this picture he is phoning to his head office. After some phone calls I was allowed to stay. The guest house is within a 100 m radius of the confluence point! Note that the chance of a guesthouse being within a 100 m radius around a confluence is 1:1 Million (because only a millionth of the worldwide area is within such circles).
CP visit details:
- Distance to an asphalt (or concrete) road: 200 m
- Distance to a track: 50 m
- Distance to a footpath: 5 m
- Duration of the hike to reach the CP: 2 minutes
- Distance of bicycle parking: 50 m
- Distance to houses: 95 m
- Time at the CP: 18:15 PM
- Measured height: 366 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 0 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 3 m
- Topography: slightly hilly
- Vegetation: Plantation of Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae)
- Weather: sunny, 25° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Jelly Ear Confluence
Story continues at 48°N 129°E.