08-Aug-2004 -- This being my first trip to the eastern edge of Asia and not having even attempted a confluence in over a year, I figured I needed to at least try while I was here. I am visiting my company's office in Shanghai for two weeks; unfortunately I'm only going to be here for one weekend. Saturday the 7th was already planned as a day of sightseeing in downtown Shanghai, so Sunday the 8th it was.
I left from my hotel in Pudong at 9 a.m. with Jackson driving. Driving in Shanghai is treacherous for the inexperienced and I didn't have an international driver's license anyway. Jackson is a professional driver, knows his way around Shanghai, and handled the traffic congestion with ease.
It was first necessary to cross the Huangpu River, which we did on the Nanpu Bridge, which is a modern cable stayed bridge. Almost everything in Pudong is less than ten years old including the bridge, the 5th tallest building in the world, the 3rd tallest tower in the world, and what will be when completed the tallest building in the world.
After crossing the river we proceeded southwest on the A9 toll way. This is a modern multilane highway with a nicely landscaped median. We spent about an hour driving in the nicely air-conditioned car. It was a very hot day with temperatures of 36°C and very high humidity. We exited the highway at what we hoped would be the correct exit and headed northwest toward the confluence.
Even though we were only a few miles outside of a city of 20 million we were definitely in rural china. The number of private cars on the road had dropped dramatically and almost all traffic was busses, bicycles and trucks. This part of Shanghai is mostly agricultural and grows rice. Since rice requires lots of water to grow there are canals everywhere and many people use them for transport. Many of the boats seemed to be made of cast concrete and were propelled with a pole.
We passed through a medium sized town before getting to within a few miles of the confluence. Once through the town the serious confluence hunting began. From the GPS we were only a few miles from the confluence but which road would get us there was not obvious. We would proceed down a road that looked promising only to have it fade off into rice paddies. We would then backtrack and try a different road with the same results. We started our hunt approximately to the southeast of the confluence and worked our way around the area clockwise. The closest we managed to get to the confluence was 1.65 km or about 1 mile away. Once we had tried every road we could find, all the way to the north of the confluence, we gave up.
Jackson and I were hungry for lunch and he knew a good place nearby. We drove for about 1/2 an hour to the town of Xitang in the Zhejiang province. Xitang is an ancient town which is at the confluence of nine rivers and is very picturesque. We had an excellent lunch on a floating restaurant. My favorite part of the lunch was the little fried fish that you ate whole. After lunch we walked up and down the banks of the river.
It was very hot so we soon tired of that and proceeded back to the car, and headed back to Shanghai. I guess this will have to remain an attempt for me as it is unlikely that I will return to Shanghai anytime soon.