05-Aug-2005 -- Story continues from 32°N 118°E.
Fri 5 Aug 2005 (Day 8), 6 a.m. - I leave my hotel to take the no. 801 commuter bus across town to the West Bus Station. Buses to Changgang Township in neighbouring Feixi County leave from the West Bus Station every 20 minutes.
6:40 a.m. - The bus for Changgang departs. It's a nice, new, clean bus, and practically empty. For the first part of the journey, we travel west along the main highway towards Liu'an, the same route I travelled with Jim, Nur and Xiao Xu six days ago on our way to 32°N 116°E. When we reach Wanggaigang, the bus turns north along a sealed but pot-holed road to Changgang. It's threatening to rain.
7:40 a.m. - We arrive in Changgang. The confluence is 5.3 kilometres NW. I walk WNW out of town along a peaceful dirt road, which sports lots of puddles and mud due to recent rain. When the confluence is 3.5 kilometres NW, I turn north into a similar dirt road.
9:25 a.m. - I arrive at Liumiaodui, part of Shuangmiao Village, which is administered by Gangji Township in Changfeng County. The confluence is now 5.2 kilometres WSW. This wasn't supposed to happen. According to my map, there should have been a road leading off to the west well before this that would have taken me very close to the confluence. But I've walked all the way into the next county, and seen no sign of the road at all.
The locals are of no help when it comes to the location of the mystery road, however one of their number does offer me a ride back to Feixi County on his motorbike. On our way, as we're passing a small place called Denggang, I notice an extremely muddy track off to my right that I'd overlooked before. Could this be the road I'm looking for?
The track is too muddy for the motorbike, so I set off alone on foot. Once I'm out of the village, the track becomes less muddy, and it's a very peaceful and enjoyable walk. However, despite this promising start, the track soon peters out, and I'm left to make my way the remaining three kilometres towards the confluence by means of small trails between the fields, passing through several small villages along the way, one sporting geese daubed with iridescent blue paint.
11:30 a.m. - I arrive in Miannandui, part of Mianhu Village, which is administered by Liugang Township in Shou County. This is now the third county I've visited during my extensive morning walk! The confluence is just 160 metres ENE of Miannandui, in a large pond.
I'm joined by three curious locals, and we make our way to the pond. The confluence is 15 metres from the shore. I wade in as far as I dare, which is not very far, and snap the GPS shot. One of the locals, Hu Lunwu, wades in much further, and points to roughly where the confluence is while I take the shot facing north from the safety of the bank. The remaining shots facing south, east and west are taken from my position a few metres into the water.
I'm then invited to stay for lunch. Among other things, they farm huangshan (freshwater yellow eels), and these form a constituent part of the meal. We are joined by various other family members, including the cute daughter of one.
Of course, there is a much easier way back to civilisation than my gruelling three-kilometre trek through the fields. Before I leave, the four of us who visited the confluence together pose for a photo, then two of them accompany me for the 20-minute walk along an easy path back to the main road in Feixi County.
2:15 p.m. - When we arrive at the main road, there is a three-wheeler passenger truck preparing to depart for Changgang, so I don't have to wait. Half an hour later I'm in Changgang and onto a bus back to Hefei. Among the bus passengers is a schoolteacher with very good English (although he doesn't teach English--a terrible waste of talent) who engages me in pleasant conversation.
4:10 p.m. - I arrive at the Hefei West Bus Station, from where I take a no. 801 commuter bus back to my hotel.
Story continues at 31°N 118°E.