09-Jul-2006 -- This is my second confluence and this 19N105E is really impressive.
The confluence hunters came from all over the country so coordination played an important role. The muster point was decided at Vinh train station where the first 4 teams were to meet. My team of 5 from Sai Gon was getting there by train that didn’t arrive until 23:00. Another team of 2 was on the 7th day of their cross country trip, wanted to join and made their U turn from Hue, an old and quiet city used to be the capital of our last Kingdom. Three others were on a fishing trip joined us from Cua Lo and the last but not least team of 3 adults and one 7 year old child came from Hanoi. Each team equiped with at least a GPS receiver so we kept each other updated with our current locations by sending our coordinates by SMS.
All 14 persons met happily at Vinh station, after giving big hugs and shaking hands, we decided to go at once to Do Luong, a small town on the way to the 19N 105E. Got off the train, we got on two jeeps and one sedan comfortably and one after another, headed to Do Luong. The road is pretty good and it took about two hours to get there just in time for a late meal before the quarter-final football match between Germany and Portugal. Not much time left for a sleep.
We got up at 6:00 next morning, had breakfast at Do Luong and welcomed three last 3 members from Hanoi on another sedan. So we have totally 17 members with two cars and two jeeps started navigating to the confluence. There was no address given to them other than a waypoint sent again by SMS.
To tell the truth, this is such a confused trip to me. There are too many experienced members. One used the map of Vietnam Ministry of Transport, other used the old US military maps, they spent much time discussing about which the best way is. I heard many place names and they were all in a muddle with me. It was thought that the confluence is at the river side, then we should go for Hochiminh trail to Tri Le Bridge, leave the vehicles within the last 2km and go on foot for it. Another opinion is going for Highway 7 to Ke May, then taking the ferry-boat to the other side of the river and reach the confluence. Something like that, I still can’t remember exactly because I knew nothing about such way and the discussion was too confused to me. Another member insisted on asking the people there about the way to Duc Son Town. Everyone seemed to follow the way which had been asked and then nearly got lost in a strange area (or at least I thought so). At first, I tried to follow what everyone were discussing to understand and remember which way to go. But I gave up right after that. I felt that we got into another confusion of Anh Son town and Duc Son town, Xom 4 or Muc Dien, etc… but the guys looked very confident though each of them pointing a different direction.
The road is extremely rough and I didn’t know exactly where we were going to. Then we met an old lady and she’s willing to go with us to Xom 4, where we thought the confluence is near by. It was the trip from Xom 9, Xom 8, Xom 7, Xom 6.. After that, I didn’t see any sign to figure out where we were. The roads were rough and full of muddy holes. We cross the holes carefully but the Mercedes and the Chevrolet did not have enough clearance. The guys used hands to carry rocks and pieces of wood to fill the muddy holes, others gave signals to help the drivers. Sometimes we had to stop to wait and help these two cars pass a rough place. However, no one intended to give up. I was in the Sangyong and it had no problems on that bumpy road, we still had time to pick up flowers along the way. Everyone decided to follow the path along the river according to the map (I still didn’t know which map was finally chosen!?!). We kept moving and going.. and we get closer and closer. It’s only 2 km from the confluence the the road suddenly gets much better.
The guys told me usually the last 2 km was always the most difficult. But it was not true this time. We counted down and over the radio, I heard “500m left”, one yelled. And we reached the confluence right on our way when I hadn’t recognized what was going yet. No river! It’s on a rice-seeding field, off course, the map show it’s about a kilometer from the river bank. Some members had already got there a little bit before us. Everybody rushed into the field. At least I could see 8 gps in use. They moved around to find the exactly point. But only 3 succeed in getting all the zeros in the gps screen. The field had been seeded, so we didn’t want to destroy them all. We stood around and took pictures. There was still a member tried to get all the zeros and he jumped for joy like a child when saw them. Such an eccentric feeling! I experienced that feeling in my first confluence before and I understood why he was so moved like that. No matter how hard to reach the confluence, the feeling is always too amazing to describe.
One thing to remember is the kindness of Bac Ha people who were willing to let us go around their already-seeded field and even help some members to clean their boots after setting foot on the field.
We got back to Hanoi within the night, passing Ban Lac, Mai Chau, etc.. And I know for sure one thing: my country is so beautiful.