23-Apr-2003 -- Continued from 26°N 112°E.
Tuesday 22 April 2003 (Day 6, continued) - I arrived in Leixuan at 1 p.m., and had time for a quick lunch before my next bus arrived. This bus got me to Yongzhou at 4:15 p.m., and 15 minutes later I was on my final bus of the day, to Qiyang.
Dinner in Qiyang was an interesting experience. As I sat at my table, sipping tea and nibbling sunflower seeds, waiting for my order to arrive, an altercation erupted between the restaurant management and a party preparing to depart. The dispute appeared to be about whether or not they should have to pay for a large fish that they had ordered but then subsequently cancelled, even though the chef had already started cooking it. The confrontation carried on out into the street, then re-erupted back in the restaurant after the proprietress hurled a particularly caustic parting shot, drawing the unhappy customers back inside for more. I watched it all unfold with impartial interest until one of the combatants was shoved heavily into my table, spilling my tea and scattering sunflower seeds. At this juncture, I felt it was best to retreat from the action, and so slipped quietly out of the restaurant in search of a more tranquil place to enjoy dinner. I ended up in the hotel restaurant, where a huge bowl of noodles with meat, a side-order of vegetables, a pot of tea and a pack of tissues, not to mention exemplary service, set me back the staggeringly low sum of just two yuan (US$0.25)!
Wednesday 23 April 2003 (Day 7) - I checked out of my hotel early, and took a bus to Baidishi. From here I hired a minivan to take me all the way to the village of Jinxing, about 25 kilometres NNE as the crow flies, but considerably more by road. It also involved crossing from one county into another, and when we reached this point, my driver chickened out, claiming that his licence didn't allow him to drive outside his particular county.
Fortunately, another minivan driver was more than willing to take up the challenge, and I was soon on my way again. Unfortunately, he was not very good at reading maps, and I had my work cut out to convince him he was going the wrong way when he suddenly turned off in completely the wrong direction, apparently heading towards another village also named Jinxing. Jinxing means "Gold Star", and is a popular Chinese placename.
We eventually arrived at the correct Jinxing, which was 1.75 kilometres from the confluence. Light rain was falling as I headed off on foot. The rain did eventually stop, however the confluence was located on a densely foliated hillside that I had to fight my way through, and every time I touched anything I was rewarded with a shower of water from the leaves. One compensation for this was the incredible variety of bird-life, with specimens of every description, many with very melodious calls.
By the time I located the confluence, well away from any sort of path, I was very wet indeed. The elevation was 306 metres. Photos taken looking north, south, east and west clearly show the thick vegetation, through which progress definitely was not easy.
I retraced my steps back to Jinxing, where I waited for a passing bus. My presence attracted a dozen or so curious locals, including one particularly photogenic peasant woman.
Story continues at 27°N 111°E.