07-Jul-2012 -- Story continues from 39°N 112°E.
Back in Shénchí (神池县), I get on a bus bound for Sānchà Town (三岔镇) to the west, which leaves a couple of minutes later. In Sānchà, the driver drops me off at a spot where he assures me I can catch a passing bus further west to Bǎodé County (保德县). I have to wait about half an hour on the side of the road, watching an endless procession of big, 22-wheeler coal trucks go by, before a Bǎodé bus finally comes along.
I am truly amazed at the skill of the bus driver, as he expertly threads our large bus between two lines of coal trucks heading in opposite directions on what is supposed to be just a two-lane highway, all the time on the alert to avoid colliding head-on with traffic coming the other way doing the same thing. I have never seen so many coal trucks in all my life!
In Bǎodé, I check into a relatively nice hotel just near the bus station. I am a bit startled to read the sign next to the lift on my floor, which states that “fire happened,” and that I should “run away by steps”!
It is approaching 7 pm, so there is not much daylight left. I quickly grab a taxi to the confluence, which is about seven kilometres southwest. We stop on the freeway by the side of the Yellow River (Huánghé 黄河), close to the confluence. There is a bulldozer working on a dirt track between the freeway and the river embankment, and I have to wait for it to go by before proceeding.
I scramble down the embankment, comprised of large stones held in place by wire. It turns out to be a lot easier than I feared it might be. I am lucky that the level of the river is low enough that a horizontal layer of rocks, also held together by wire, is exposed, and I can easily walk on this right to the water’s edge to get the best possible GPS reading.
I take photos of the views to the north, south, east and west. The view to the north looks over the Yellow River to Shǎnxī Province (陕西省). After climbing back up the embankment, I take another south-facing shot, for a view of the dirt track, the freeway, and the land beyond. My taxi driver is quite relieved that I have reappeared, I’m sure!
As we head back along the freeway towards my hotel, we pass under a bridge across the Yellow River, linking Shǎnxī with Shānxī (山西省). There is an unbroken line of the huge coal trucks slowly making their way across.
Today has been a good day, with two successful confluence visits. Only one more Shānxī confluence left to complete my journey.
Story continues at 38°N 111°E.