03-Dec-2005 -- 19 N – 109 E Hainan (海南), China,
Line Hunting Date: December 3, 2005
There are two land-based confluence points on the Island of Hainan. Both at latitude 19 degree north, these are the most southern confluence points in China – the objective of our expedition.
Hainan the smallest province of China, and the only tropical area has only two land-based confluence points (four others are water-based CP defined by DCP located on ocean). As it turned out, this particular point located in a large reservoir, hence physically a water-based confluence point. At least, this is a “fresh water-based” confluence point.
This hunting expedition was feasible mainly because we were invited by our friend Wei Haichun (Xiao Wei) who lives in Haikou (海口), the capital of Hainan, and learned about the line-hunting project from Button. Sierra was able to join the expedition because of no school on Friday and the prospect of spending time on beach made the deal even sweeter.
From some quick research before departure, we learned from satellite photo that this particular point was located on water, within a large reservoir – this made this our third consecutive line-hunting for a point on water! Previous two points one was in the middle of a fish pond, the other was in the middle of Yellow River. The prospect of swimming for this hunt was high, and having Sierra made more sense given she is the best swimmer of the lot.
We took the first flight for Haikou and we were met by Xiao Wei and Chen Ming, the driver of what turned out to be a very suitable vehicle for line-hunting – a Toyota Land Cruiser. We took off straight away, and Chen Ming knew exactly how to reach the reservoir.
We took the western expressway for 150 km before we turned off near Dong Fang (东 方） About half an hour later we were at the bottom of a large dam – Da Guang Ba ( 大广坝 ), which literally mean Big and Wide Dam. The name fitted the dam well, we had to drive more than 2 km on top of the dam to get near the confluence point.
Along the way, we did stop twice to pick up some essential equipment for this hunt. Once at a tire repair shop and got an old inner-tubing. Another time at Dong He (东河), the township where confluence point belonged, to pick up and a plastic wash basin which fitted well inside the inner-tubing. This way we can hold the essential gear above water in the event we had to swim to the confluence point.
At the end of the great dam, we followed a dirt road for about 1 km which brought us to a small ferry landing. Further down a road for another 200 meters, we reached the closest location to the confluence point, about 480 meters away. This was further than the 300 meters estimated from the satellite photo, and even Sierra was not keen on the round trip swim. We started looking for a boat.
We found a large wooden boat in front of the nearest house from the confluence point but filled with water. A small bamboo raft nearby can hold one person did not look promising either. A fellow at the house indicated that he could arrange for one of the ferries to take us to our point of interest.
We backtracked to the ferry landing, and there were three ferries there. Two of the ferries were preoccupied with loading and unloading of goods, but the smallest one appeared to be idle. The operators of the idle ferry, a father and son pair, readily agreed to take us to the confluence point which was about 600 meters away.
In less than 10 minutes after the ferry left the shore we started trying to maneuver the ferry to get as close to hit the zero points, which was not easy. The best we were able to do was about 35 meters from the all zero points. So, we reverted to our original plan – swim to the confluence point.
Button and Ray went into the water about 60 meters away from the point with GPS and camera in the wash basin held by the inner tubing. The ferry boss also threw in an old life preserver for good measure.
Our best swimmer, Sierra, at last moment decided not to take the dip by claiming the water was too cold. Actually the water temperature was perfect. What would made this a perfect hunt was some sun.
Swimming to the CP using GPS as a guide turned out to be an arduous effort. We must push the inner-tubing gently so water do not get into the little wash basin holding the camera and GPS. After 10 minutes of slow progress we got into the range and started the “Confluence water ballet” in an attempt to get the all zeros.
Due to lack of adequate training, the best we were able to get was one zeros with another one 001 or 002 reading. However, at the critical moment, the fancy Nikon camera would not click! In the excitement of getting the camera to work, the wash basin became half filled with water so we had to hold camera and GPS above water while holding on to the floating device.
Eventually, few GPS shots were squeezed off when we were about 8-10 meters off from the true zeros. We had our fun and we were happy to return to the ferry without having to buy a new set of camera and GPS. Now we fully appreciate that water ballet is a rather difficult sport.
Happy group shots on the ferry and the first confluence point of Hainan turned out to be a fun and wet one. Also this hunt broke the tradition for Sierra who had a tendency of only doing the hard-to-reach points often required a long-and-difficult hike. A little ride on a ferry is as easy as one can hope for.
We headed further south on the western expressway and reached Sanya (三亚 ) before dark. The only amazing aspect of driving on this modern expressway was the fact that, from time to time, there were trucks or cars going full speed and flashing their lights on the wrong side of the divided highway. Often these cars were on the fast lane coming toward us! Chen Ming, a master driver, was not the least bothered by them, just switch the land without skipping a beat.
We spend the night at the beautiful Ya Long Bay(亚龙湾) after a great sea food dinner. Our plan was to get up early to hunt for the only truly land-based confluence point of Hainan.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge: 1 – A drive up and a pleasant ferry ride (Scale: 1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
Scenery: 2 – A reservoir with calm water (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
Culture-social factors: 3 – Area populated by the Li minority many with tattooed markings on their face (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)