30-Oct-2005 -- It's taken me a while to remember to get this one up. Even if I had got 32m closer I would have considered it a fail because the confluence would not have been visible from where I had reached. Looking at previous visits I'm still not sure where I went wrong!
It started out smoothly enough. I caught the underground at Tiananmen Square (after a brief fly-by Chairman Mao) and got off at the end of the line where I got onto a 929 bus. I only managed this because I had got a Chinese character map the day before - my Pinyin map would have been useless. I carefully followed progress on the GPS as we travelled along and got off at the closest point where the bus forked off south.
It was a pleasant walk along the road towards the confluence. I was beginning to wondered how I would head off south when a dirt track appeared which seemed to be going in the right direction. I followed it and it veered off to the west - even better. I think it was a track for the farmers/allotment holders who had plots in the neighbourhood. Just as I drew due south of the confluence (and wondering how I was going to head into the hills) a rough track appeared up a side valley which seemed to be heading in the right direction. This all seemed too easy as indeed it was. It eventually became clear that to get to the confluence I would have to head up a steep slope to my left. I cut off acroos the ground through some small scrubby bushes. The ground became steeper and the vegetation thicker - at one point my glasses were knocked off by a branch. I should have given up at that point but I was now only about 150m away so I persevered. Eventually I realised that there was no way up the steep cliff I found myself under, I was in a country where I knew hardly any of the language, was by myself, had already fallen once and was not sure what nasty creepy-crawlies lay underfoot so sensibly gave up.
Pic 1 shows the steep slope (it looked closer to a cliff) I would have had to scale and shows the view west. The Pic 2 (view north) shows the road I'd turned off, Pic 3 shows the view south and Pic 4 west. Pic 5 is the GPS at the spot where I gave up.
I gingerly made my way back down and trudged back to the bus stop, stopping in a village to observe a boisterous game of cards, visit the local shop and spend all of 10p (1.5 yuan) on an ice cream and some water. I got itno conversation with a 6 year old at the bus stop who was delighted to practice his English and identified the character for my stop so that I could show it to the conductor. Once the bus arrived it was sardine time all the way back into Beijing.