31-Mar-2005 -- Continued from 31°N 120°E.
We left Changxing at 6:30 a.m. on a bus to Jiaxing County. This took an interesting route: from Changxing County southeast to neighbouring Huzhou County, then east through Jiangsu Province before turning south and re-entering Zhejiang Province in Jiaxing Prefecture. We arrived in Jiaxing at 9 a.m., and left 20 minutes later on a bus to the adjacent county of Jiashan. In Jiashan we had a half hour wait before catching a 10:20 a.m. bus to Liantang Township in Shanghai.
We arrived in Liantang at 11:15 a.m., the confluence four kilometres WSW. Reaching the confluence from here could not have been easier. We simply turned down Lianxin Road, Liantang's main crossroad, which runs in a perfectly straight line alongside a canal, and followed it all the way to its end, at the village of Silian, from where the confluence was a mere 330 metres to the north, across some fields. We did not encounter any difficulty at all, and can only surmise that previous visitors who did must have approached the confluence from an entirely different direction.
As we were nearing the end of Lianxin Road, we tried to guess just exactly where in the fields off to our right the confluence might be. Our GPSs seemed to be pointing to a small white house. Sure enough, when we subsequently headed north into the fields and located the point, we found it just a couple of dozen metres south of the white house, which was on the opposite side of a small canal. The occupants of the house were shrimp farmers. We chatted with them across the canal, explaining the significance of the confluence point. They jokingly asked if we'd like to buy the land on which it was located.
According to my GPS, we were at an elevation of only one metre. The surrounding land was absolutely dead flat, with not a hill in sight in any direction: north, south, east or west.
We celebrated with the last of Tim's wife's brownies, then headed back to the road, where we found a truck loading up with live shrimp from some other nearby shrimp farms. They were happy to give us a lift back to Liantang, saving us the four-kilometre walk on what had become an unseasonably warm day with the mercury hitting 28°C. We were back in Liantang by 1:15 p.m.
From Liantang we caught a bus to nearby Zhujiajiao Township, and from there another bus into the heart of Shanghai. The latter bus ride was a torturously long affair through abysmally congested traffic. I lived in Shanghai for three years back in the late eighties and early nineties, and as we slowly made our way through town, I kept looking out for familiar landmarks, but alas, the only things that were familiar were the street names--everything else had completely changed beyond all recognition.
When our bus finally reached its destination near Peoples Square, we had both had quite enough of modern day Shanghai, and headed for the nearest subway station to escape it all. A local who kindly showed us the way to the subway entrance (which we never would have found without his help) told us that even resident Shanghainese who come back after spending as little as a year away no longer recognise the place, such is the pace of change.
The subway connects with the Shanghai Maglev Train, a rapid link between downtown Shanghai and the new airport in Pudong. The trip on the maglev certainly did not take long at all, with the train reaching speeds in excess of 430 kilometres per hour. For the amusement of passengers, every carriage was equipped with several digital readouts that displayed the train's current speed.
At the airport, I was able to get on a 5:40 p.m. flight back to Shenzhen, and Jim on another flight an hour later to Guilin in Guangxi. We bade one another farewell, congratulating ourselves on a highly successful confluence trip during which we'd managed to visit eight confluences in just seven days--considerably less time than the twelve days I'd originally envisaged.