07-Aug-2003 -- Continued from 27°N 116°E.
Thursday 7 August 2003 – The confluence was 13.2 kilometres north of Ruijin. I checked out of the Ruijin Hotel at 7:45 a.m., after a long night's sleep. I left my big bag at reception, then walked to the bus station where I got a bus that was heading north up the main highway from Ruijin back towards Ningdu. I got out after half an hour, at 8:35 a.m., near a town called Huangbo, with the confluence 2.75 kilometres to the west.
Leaving the main highway, I followed a dirt road which headed northwest, all the while looking and hoping for some opportunity to swing round to the south. After a couple of kilometres the road eventually ended, but a path continued on in its place. A couple of times I abandoned the path in favour of going up small cultivated valleys to my left, where I thought I might find a way over the hills and into what I hoped would be another valley further south, but each time I had to turn back when I came upon nothing but a thick wall of impenetrable vegetation at the back of the last rice paddy.
Starting to despair, I continued on in a northwesterly direction, with the distance to the confluence now starting to increase instead of decrease. But my perseverance was eventually rewarded when the path took me over the crest of a hill and into a long valley stretching way out to the south. I followed this until I was just a few hundred metres from the confluence, then miraculously found a narrow path at the end of a small side valley that took me in the correct direction up to the top of a hill, now only 150 metres from the confluence.
I could find no path leading down the other side of the hill, so simply had to scramble down the steep, fern-covered slope. Once down the bottom, I realised that the confluence was going to be up on the hillside on the opposite side of the narrow valley. Straight up looked a little difficult, so I walked down a path to my left for several hundred metres, from where I found access to the hill was much easier. I climbed up, then walked the couple of hundred metres back along the crest until I was just a dozen metres away. Then it was a simple matter of scrambling down amongst the ferns and trees to find the spot itself.
I reached the confluence at 11 a.m. The elevation was 304 metres, and the GPS accuracy was 10 metres. I took the customary photos, north, south, east and west, then turned the camera on myself. Within just a few metres of the confluence was an old grave, very overgrown with ferns.
As usual, there was a much easier way back out to the main highway than the way I'd come in. I walked to the nearby village, where one old woman was arranging her chillies--red, yellow and green ones--on a large tray to dry. I enquired about the route, and was shown the path that led over a small rise to a decent dirt road.
Not long after I started walking down the road, I came across two dung beetles working in unison to manoeuvre their booty from one side of the road to the other. Shortly thereafter a motorcyclist came along and offered me a lift. He was a local ganbu (cadre), very friendly, and kept insisting that I stay and have lunch with him and his wife in Huangbo, but I politely declined his kind offer.
I was back in Huangbo at 12:15 p.m., and did not have to wait for very long by the side of the highway before a bus bound for Ruijin came by. Back at the Ruijin Hotel, I collected my bag, changed from my pants and boots into shorts and sandals, used the Internet connection in the business centre once more, then set off for the bus station. Just as I was leaving the hotel, four businessmen were also leaving, and they gave me a lift to the bus station in their car.
At 1:45 p.m. I was on a bus bound for Ganzhou, and by 4:15 p.m. I'd arrived and checked into the Pearl Hotel in the heart of the city. I took advantage of the good commuter bus system to go first to one end of the city to check out the train station, then to the opposite end to check out bus options. I had dinner in a very pleasant little restaurant close to the hotel before retiring to my room at 7:20 p.m.
Story continues at 26°N 115°E.