15-Aug-2003 -- We visited this Confluence on our bike tour between Hanoi and Phnom Penh.This is the third of a series of seven Confluences. The second is 18N 105E.
We started our tour on August, 3 in Vietnam's capital Hanoi. After riding through incredible heat and humidity in Vietnam and severe rain in Laos, we reached the provincial capital Tha Khaek in southern Laos. On the morning of August, 13 we started in Tha Khaek at the Mekong River and rode southwards on Highway 13, which is a nice asphalt road.
In the afternoon, when we crossed the river called Se Bangfai, it was just a jump of 10 km to the Confluence. It was now time to switch on our GPS receiver. While continuing to ride our bikes southward, the display counted down the last few kilometres to our point. Everything seemed fine and we got more and more exited about getting to the point soon. The fact that it started to rain didn't bother us; we continued our cycling and came to the point where we got closest to the Confluence by the main road. The GPS displayed a distance of 3.2 km. We went a little further on the main road until we saw a path in direction of the Confluence. From that point on bad luck seemed to follow us: Guang's back tire suddenly got a flat. Interestingly there was a little bike-repair shop nearby and we let him fix that for us. Not even 10 minutes later, the tire was fine and we wanted to continue...
But suddenly the GPS turned itself off! It seemed, there was an outage, so we replaced the batteries. But even then, the display showed nothing at all. Right at the intersection to the confluence point there was a little corner shop, where we could buy new batteries. But even this didn't help - our GPS wouldn't work. We tried and tried, but finally it got too late, darkness would come soon and we had no choice but to leave the place. The small town Bangfai about 15 km north of the Confluence didn't have any place to stay so we went to Xeno about 40 km further south.
Waking up next morning we were hopeful that the GPS would work again, after drying the receiver and loading our batteries with full power. But we were mistaken: The instrument seemed out of order. We gave up visiting Confluences and continued our bike tour to Savannaket (about 70 km from the Confluence).
On the morning of the third day, looking at the LCD display of the GPS, we saw condensation behind the screen. Now it was clear: There was water in the receiver and the only way to get rid of it was to open it and let it dry. To some degree we had to destroy the instrument in order to open up the display and the keys, but anyway, this was the last chance we had. But even spreading it out in the hot sun for an hour did not help. We agreed not to give up until 11 a.m.
Unbelievably, at ten to eleven our instrument started working again! We put the parts together and fixed them with tape. We checked out of our hotel and immediately took a bus back to the Confluence.
There we were again, two days later, but with a working instrument. This time we could follow the trail which was often under a layer of water. Conveniently, the trail came as close as 150 m to the Confluence. Just after passing through some former rice paddies we got to the site. It can be described as having individual trees with bushes and high grass in between. An old fence is right next to it. The area is mainly flat and there are no houses near the site. About four km further is a village called Ban Mouang Khai (where the trail probably ends).
Meanwhile Guang had come down with a bad skin rash on her feet and we had to return immediately. Even while taking our victory photo, Guang was unable to smile since her skin hurt badly. We decided we better not show the picture of the rash.
On our way back, wading through the water again, we met locals, which have to walk or ride this way to their village daily.
This story is continued at 15N 106E.