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the Degree Confluence Project
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China : Héběi Shěng

2.7 km (1.7 miles) ESE of Xiaowufu, Héběi, China
Approx. altitude: 20 m (65 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 40°S 63°W

Accuracy: 4 m (13 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: GPS Reading #3: Ground Zero #4: The Confluence Biker #5: The Graves at a Distance of 30 m #6: A Pond at a Distance of 200 m #7: View to the South #8: View to the West #9: View to the North #10: View to the East

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  40°N 117°E (visit #4)  

#1: The Confluence from 30m

(visited by Rainer Mautz)

09-Jul-2008 --

General information about the tour

This is the first out of 23 confluences that I reached on my bicycle trip to the North-East of China. This region is not often visited by tourists, because it is said that there are few attractions and the landscapes are less spectacular compared to other regions of China. However, on the confluence map the North-East has been a big white area with hundreds of unvisited confluences. With the goal in mind to change this, I set off in Běijīng and cycled 3828 km during 28-days. The first 3 confluences that I reached are located in the densely populated Héběi Province and had been visited already. The next 20 confluence points had not yet been reported yet. Equipped with only coarse scale maps, each one would be a surprise.

It turned out that the degree in latitude corresponded well with the degree in difficulty. The higher the latitudes the less population density and as a consequence the confluences tended to be more remote. In particular the far north is comparable to Canada’s, North Europe’s or the Siberian taiga. Accessing confluence points in such an environment requires long walks though shrubs and most stories tell you about mosquitoes and swamps.

A kml-map of the tour can be downloaded for viewing in Google Earth or Google Maps here or viewed directly in Google Maps. Interestingly, my bike trip to China draws a funny shaped mushroom on the confluence map with my visits.

I’ve been frequently asked some questions about the tour by my friends. The answers might be interesting for you as well.

  • How did you prepare for the trip? The decision to go to Northern China (and not to Qinghai Province) was made spontaneously the previous day before the start. I simply set off in Běijīng and planned my routes at a daily bases. I did not use the help of Google Earth for finding the best approach to the confluences. I actually enjoyed the surprise, hoping to find some roads, tracks and footpaths.
  • Where did you get the bicycle? I bought it in Běijīng for 1200 Yuan. After the bike tour, I rode it directly to the Capital Airport in Běijīng and took it with me to Europe as a piece of luggage.
  • Did you cycle on motorways? No, I preferably took minor country roads with less traffic on them. Oftentimes I rode on unsealed tracks, in particular when approaching the confluence points.
  • Did you ride during the night as well? Not at all. I always tried to reach a hotel before daylight faded. Sometimes, in smaller places these “hotels” were very basic but therefore incredibly friendly like a home stay.
  • Why did you get up at 3 a.m.? Indeed, I averaged 3:40 a.m. as my get up time. China has only one time zone – so in the north-east the break of dawn is around 3 a.m. in summer. At that time it is still pleasantly cool, and roads are traffic-free. But more importantly, I have long daylight hours ahead, giving me flexibility to find a place to stay even in the case of some problems (e.g. broken bicycle, unexpectedly long confluence hike, no village in the area).
  • How did you find the confluences? The selection of confluences and roads was based on my coarse scale map 1:2 Mio. When approaching the confluences I mounted a GPS receiver on the handle bars to have direction and distance to my goal. Then, I searched for tracks that could bring me as close as possible to the confluence. In most cases, the hiking part was relatively short.
  • Why do you travel alone? Traveling alone is the best way to communicate with local people. Secondly, there is nobody to complain about an early start and crazy-long biking hours on gravel or taking mosquito guided bushwalks.
  • Information about this confluence

    At 3:30 a.m. I got up and had some great Tiramisu made by my sister-in-law. I set off at 4:07 a.m. from Běijīng’s Cháoyáng (朝阳) district. The early start helped me to get out of Běijīng before the rush hour traffic started. Without a major break I rode eastwards on road 102 until milestone “km 50” just before entering the city of Sānhé (三河市). This district is an enclave of Héběi Province, squeezed between Běijīng and Tianjing. From the km 50 marker, I took a wide asphalt road northwards for about 3 km. At a distance of 800 m I turned westwards on a track, passed through a village called Xiaotianzong and found the confluence 250 m after leaving the village to the west.

    I abandoned my bicycle at a beeline distance of 108 m and started a short hike. I passed some graves just 30 m from the confluence. A little problem was a deep big ditch filled with water just 20 m from the goal. After climbing across the ditch, I found the confluence in a corn field.

    CP Visit Details:

    • Distance to an asphalt road: 1000 m
    • Distance to a road: 250 m
    • Distance to a track: 110 m
    • Distance of parking the bike: 108 m
    • Distance to houses: 220 m
    • Time starting the hike: 7:10 a.m.
    • Time at the CP: 7:18 a.m.
    • Riding time (distance) from Běijīng: 2:55 hours (60.6 km)
    • Measured height: 17 m
    • Minimal distance according to GPS: 0 m
    • Position accuracy at the CP: 4 m
    • Topography: flat
    • Vegetation: corn field, pope trees nearby
    • Weather: light rain, overcast, 23° C (felt temperature)
    • Description of the CP: 60 km straight east of Běijīng in an enclave of Hebei Province. Typical agricultural area of northern China.
    • Given Name: The Big Ditch Confluence

    Here is an overview of the tour in table form:

    Day Date Overnight Place KM Km/h Riding Hours Hotel  (Yuan) Getup Time Riding Time DCP
    1 09.7.2008 古冶 236 19.6 12:00 128 3:30 4:07 - 19:30 40°N 117°E, 40°N 118°E
    2 10.7.2008 抚宁 114 16.8 06:42 130 6:00 7:00 - 18:50 40°N 119°E
    3 11.7.2008 建昌 168 18.7 09:03 160 4:30 5:00 - 16:15 -
    4 12.7.2008 建昌 0 - 00:00 160 5:00 - -
    5 13.7.2008 朝阳 150 18.7 08:03 158 4:00 4:30 - 16:15 41°N 120°E
    6 14.7.2008 奈曼旗 224 19.8 11:15 128 4:00 4:50 - 19:30 42°N 120°E
    7 15.7.2008 通辽 197 17.5 10:30 168 3:50 4:30 - 17:30 43°N 121°E
    8 16.7.2008 通辽 5 10.0 00:30 168 5:30 8:00 - 12:00 44°N 122°E
    9 17.7.2008 太平川 173 20.2 08:28 100 4:00 4:50 - 17:00 44°N 123°E
    10 18.7.2008 桃南 140 20.0 07:04 120 3:30 4:30 - 19:00 45°N 124°E 45°N 123°E
    11 19.7.2008 音德儿 205 18.6 11:00 120 3:30 4:20 - 19:00 46°N 123°E
    12 20.7.2008 龙江 127 17.8 07:09 150 4:20 5:00 - 16:00 47°N 123°E
    13 21.7.2008 扎兰屯 142 17.3 08:12 200 4:00 4:30 - 17:00 48°N 123°E
    14 22.7.2008 博克图 128 16.8 07:39 160 4:00 5:00 - 17:00 -
    15 23.7.2008 牙克石 150 18.2 08:17 150 3:00 4:00 - 14:00 49°N 121°E
    16 24.7.2008 库都尔 149 18.6 08:00 160 3:30 4:22 - 17:00 -
    17 25.7.2008 图里河 132 17.5 07:34 150 3:45 4:55 - 16:00 50°N 122°E
    18 26.7.2008 得耳布儿 139 15.6 09:02 150 3:15 4:05 - 18:00 51°N 121°E
    19 27.7.2008 金河 123 14.3 08:35 180 4:00 5:20 - 15:30 -
    20 28.7.2008 满归 128 14.2 09:08 130 2:50 3:40 - 16:45 52°N 122°E
    21 29.7.2008 漠河 144 16.8 08:34 30 3:00 4:10 - 13:00 -
    22 30.7.2008 塔河 89 15.9 05:35 220 4:22 5:00 - 17:20 53°N 123°E
    23 31.7.2008 大乌苏 145 15.6 09:16 40 3:00 3:50 - 17:45 52°N 125°E
    24 01.8.2008 加格大奇 112 18.4 06:00 100 4:00 4:50 - 16:40 51°N 124°E
    25 02.8.2008 大杨树 168 14.4 12:00 80 3:00 4:20 - 20:00 50°N 125°E
    26 03.8.2008 螣克 119 16.5 07:12 15 5:00 6:00 - 16.00 -
    27 04.8.2008 嫩江 126 15.6 08:04 160 3:30 4:15 - 16:00 49°N 125°E
    28 05.8.2008 火车 95 17.3 05:29 - 3:00 4:00 - 12.00 49°N 126°E
    sum     3828            
    av     137 17.1 7:52 129 3:53 4:43 - 16:41 0.8/day

    Story continues at 40N 118E.


     All pictures
    #1: The Confluence from 30m
    #2: GPS Reading
    #3: Ground Zero
    #4: The Confluence Biker
    #5: The Graves at a Distance of 30 m
    #6: A Pond at a Distance of 200 m
    #7: View to the South
    #8: View to the West
    #9: View to the North
    #10: View to the East
    ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)