05-Feb-2005 -- Targ Parsons, Tony Basoglu, and myself started off a Chinese New Year’s confluence trip at 4:00pm Friday February 4, 2005. This was my first confluence trip and was to be Targ’s 100th unique successful confluence visit. We caught a high-speed ferry from Kowloon to Shenzhen Airport and met up with Ah Feng and her friend Xu Jing. The Shenzhen Airport has a modern appearance (all glass and aluminium) with many flights to all corners of the mainland at a 30-50% discount to similar flights from Hong Kong. Security was high with metal detectors and X-rays of all baggage. To test vigilance levels, a ‘senior inspector’ slipped some explosive material under my back-pack which caused some excitement amongst the X-ray machine operators. After that they even poured out some of our water bottles to check if it was flammable liquid.
At the departure gate, passengers started queuing before the plane had even arrived – old habits die hard. Soon enough we were on our Hangzhou bound plane and, after an initial delay of approximately 1 hr, taxied to the runway and were airborne. It was Ah Feng and Xu Jing's first time in a plane – they didn’t seem to be very excited by the experience and spent the flight reading magazines, which were full of ads for luxury items like Cuban Cigars, whisky, handbags etc.
We landed in Hangzhou at about 9 pm. It was cold, misty and drizzling, which was fairly typical of the weather for the rest of the trip. After catching an airport bus downtown, we transferred to two taxis and found the Hangzhou Youth Hostel. This was good value, at 50 RMB per night for a bed. The hostel was located right next to Hangzhou’s famous West Lake and, according to my map, is quite close to “Orioles Singing in the Ripples Of Willow”. Whilst the Orioles seemed to be in hiding, the music from the adjoining bars and discos could be heard. The number of pubs, clubs and new restaurants certainly indicated increasing wealth, as did the Porsche car show room, Starbucks and new Carrefour hyper-market.
Early the next morning, Targ headed off to the Train and Bus stations to check out transport options for the next few days whist Tony and I went off in search of a hot steaming bowl of la-mian (literally pulled noodles). Given the rain and cold, Targ wisely decided to go for the soft option, and arrived back at the hostel with a mini-van and driver.
We were soon on our way, heading out of Hangzhou to the confluence which was approximately 30 kms to the South West. We went down a fairly major road along side the Qiantang River to Fuyang before crossing a bridge and heading south to Dayuan, which according to our map was right on the confluence. After getting within 200 m we alighted the van and crossed over a small hill to an adjoining gully and fairly quickly located the confluence point in a small field, where we took the north, south, east and west photos.
The previous visitors to this point had been shown a stone confluence marker by a ‘knowledgeable local’. Fortunately, we had a picture of said local, and Tony went door knocking at nearby houses and quickly located him. He was slightly bemused by the attention, but kindly showed us the marker which was 76m East of the actual confluence point. As the previous visitors explained, this ‘error’ was probably due to the point being identified before Bill Clinton limited the signal scrambling which reduced the effective accuracy to 100m. Also in evidence nearby, was the construction of a highway viaduct, cutting a swathe through the small hills. This will probably be completed by the time of any future visit.
After completing the confluence, we stopped in Fuyang where Tony renewed his love of explosives and bought the first of many firecrackers. A lot of fireworks stalls are set up to cash-in on the high demand for firecrackers which are widely used to ring in the Lunar New Year with a bang.
As we completed the confluence quite quickly, we had time on our hands and visited Long Jing Village (Dragon Well Village) which is famous for its Dragon Well and its Long Jing green tea. It is located in the hills to the west of West Lake. Our driver stopped in front of one tea shop, and we eventually succumbed and bought some tea from a tenacious tea-leaf seller, who followed us around vehemently prohibiting any of the neighbouring shops from showing us a single leaf.
Back in Hangzhou, we had time to successfully locate some ‘authentic’ beggars chicken with mud topping, and go for a chilly boat trip on the lake. We retired with stomachs full of beggars chicken, and prepared ourselves for an early rise the next day.
Story continues at 30°N 119°E.