17-Jul-2008 -- Story continues from 36°N 118°E.
We return to Dàzhāngzhuāng in the tuk-tuk, then catch a bus NE to the county capital, Yíyuán, also known as Nánmá (南麻镇). We stay the night here, in the relatively new, and quite nice, Yíyuán Hotel. A prominent feature in the view from our hotel window is an attractive building made from stone.
The next morning, we enquire about buses towards the next confluence. The first bus east to Zhūchéng City (诸城市), which may not necessarily follow the route we need, is not due to leave until 12 noon, so instead we elect to catch the 8:30 a.m. bus SE to neighbouring Yíshuǐ County (沂水县).
Despite the early hour, it's already a very hot, sunny day. It's also a bad air pollution day. In Yíshuǐ, we want to get a bus NE to Mèngtuǎn Town (孟疃镇), but the first bus to Mèngtuǎn does not leave until 1 p.m., so again we compromise, and catch a bus to Mǎzhàn Town (马站镇), about halfway to Mèngtuǎn. We leave Yíshuǐ at 10:30 a.m., and arrive in Mǎzhàn about an hour later, where we wait at Mǎzhàn's main intersection for a passing bus to Mèngtuǎn.
We wait for about half an hour, all the while slowly negotiating with a minivan driver to take us the 24 km (straight-line distance) to the confluence. Eventually, with still no bus in sight, we agree a price with the minivan driver, and shortly after noon, set off west towards Mèngtuǎn.
Mr Liú (刘), the minivan driver, tells us that he is a mathematics teacher at an elementary school, and just drives the minivan to earn some extra money. Joining us on the journey is his son, Liú Bīng (刘兵), who is majoring in physics at university, and apparently understands when we explain the purpose of our trip.
We turn right at the western outskirts of Mèngtuǎn, at 36°0'50.8"N 119°1'31.1"E, then follow a country road through slightly undulating terrain for about 3 km, until the confluence is 365 m south of the road. Here we get out of the minivan, and Liú Bīng, GPS in hand, expertly guides us through the fields of peanuts and something else that none of us could identify, to the point, which is in the middle of a field of peanuts.
Liú Bīng looks on as I take the GPS shot, and the shots facing north, south, east and west, then he and I stand together at the confluence for a victory photo taken by Ah Feng. We then return to the minivan, and Mr Liú drives us back to Mèngtuǎn, where we say our goodbyes.
Story continues at 36°N 120°E.