21-Feb-2002 -- Continued from 13°N 100°E.
We stayed in Ao Nang at the coast famous for its karst (limestone) formations. The days are hot this time of year, so a drive in an air-conditioned car during the hottest time of the day comes as a welcome break. We drove east past Krabi on road #4, turned into road #4036 and got within 3km of the confluence. Here, in a small village, we tried to just follow the GPS' directions which had us winding our way along unnamed small dirt roads through rubber and banana plantations.
About 250 m from the confluence we got to our first 'No Trespassing' sign in Thailand (see picture). While contemplating our options we saw a man walk towards us. He had seen us drive around and came to see what we wanted. We told him that we were participating in a 'game' and wanted to go to a particular spot on the map, which appeared to be located somewhere behind the fence. We asked whether we could walk onto the property. He had no problem with it and opened the gate to let us drive in. The farmer explained that this was a shrimp farm and we saw 6 very big tanks. About 180m from the confluence we had to leave the car and continue on foot. Out of the 6 tanks only one was filled with water, obviously it had to be the one with the confluence! We stood some 10m from the spot on a dam and took our pictures. When the farmer learned, that the spot was in the water he asked whether we would like to use the little boat near by to get to the exact spot. We declined and told him we didn't want to inconvenience him more than necessary. He looked at us and said something to the effect: "You went through all the trouble to come here and then you don't want to go all the way?" Well, he convinced us. The boat was rather small and showed some cracks at the sides, but it was to be a short journey and the water was not deep... I got in the boat and thought I would paddle out to the spot to take my pictures. The farmer did not seem to trust my rowing skills and insisted that he would push me out there (see pictures). This was rather embarrassing; sitting there in the boat with my GPS while the poor guy was walking in chest-deep water. Had I known this was what he had in mind I would have not agreed to using the boat!
We were impressed by the support we got from this farmer: He spent over an hour with us, got into the water for us and all for a game he didn't know anything about! Amazing. We learned quite a bit about shrimp farming too: shrimp larvae are purchased; shrimp are fed 5 times a day with feed bought in town; each tank is capable of holding about 3 million shrimps; the water is treated before it can be drained into the nearby bay; a lot of the shrimp from here end up in the US. We felt we had to somehow show our gratitude and had no other means than giving him a 'tip'. He didn't want to accept it at first, but eventually gave in with a big smile.
On our way out he came up with a bit of a shocker: Somebody had been there to look for spots before! Since I hadn't seen anything on the DCP site a week earlier we asked when they had been there and he told us a year ago. This could not be, why would anybody wait that long to post the visit? I began to wonder and we asked where they had found the spot. This confirmed my suspicion: The farmer started to point out locations around the property. It looks like the others had been surveyors and not confluence hunters.
Continued at 8°N 100°E.