06-Apr-2009 -- Being based in Bangkok, my nearest confluence is actually 14N, 101 E, some 50 km to the northeast. So you might think this would be the natural starting point in my quest to visit my first degree confluence. Not quite so; it is located in Nakhon Nayok province, where one rarely passes through, neither on the way to Northern or Northeastern Thailand or the Eastern Seaboard Region, and quite far from any major road to boot.
On the other hand, there is 16N, 104E, just about 25km away from my wife's home village in Roi Et province, and 3km from the closest stretch of the country road (#2259, Selaphum - Ban Kamphon Sung) that leads to said village. In addition, the quite important highway 23, (Khon Kaen -) Ban Phai - Ubon Ratchathani, passes maybe 2-3km south of the confluence. We had also once visited Bueng Kluea ('Salt Swamp'), a local lake, and passed through a village just about 1 km north of the confluence. It was no more than 300m off the road connecting this and the next village. So I knew how to get there.
Well, I had arrived by bus from Nong Khai the evening before and was now on a mission to bring my sister-in-law and niece to Bangkok (a distance of 580km) with my father-in-law's car. The perfect occasion to give it a try. She wouldn't really understand what I was doing (crazy foreigners and their funny ideas!), but not object to me taking a little detour. So before reaching the highway at Selaphum, I took the turnoff to Bueng Kluea. She thought I wanted to see the lake again, and I thought, okay, why not go there first? I stopped there for 5 minutes and took some photos.
Then I explained I was trying to find a certain spot, and placed my GPS on the dashboard. She had seen me use it before and was indifferent to my plan. So I drove to the already mentioned village 1km north of the confluence, attempting to keep going due south and then looking for the point in the fields on the left. However, that's where something went wrong, as I didn't notice that I had taken the wrong road out of the village (signage can be terrible to non-existing) and that I was actually going west now. The only thing I noticed was that the distance to the destination was suddenly increasing, to 1.5km, then 2km and 2.5km.
But this would turn out not to be a major problem, as I simply decided to continue to the next village, find a road turning left, and follow my GPS readings (goto function). I did find a road, and from there it went really smoothly. It involved a few turns, but almost magically, the roads I was on seemed to lead exactly in the right direction, bringing me closer and closer. When approaching 600m from the target, I already thought I would have to get out now and walk the remaining distance, but spotted an intersection ahead where the current road was joining one that was running in a perpendicular direction (i.e. north-south). This was actually the road I had planned to take, only that I was now coming from the other end, from the south. This one brought me within 250m of the confluence.
I stopped and asked my sister-in-law if she could wait while I would get out of the car for 10 minutes. She took it easy, taking a nap in the back seat with her daughter (and the engine and aircon running, of course). Thus began the really exciting part, homing in by walking in a straight line through the long harvested, parched rice fields. There was one farmer around, glancing curiously at me from about 100m away, but ultimately losing interest in me. As short as the walk actually was, it still surprised me a bit how long it took to finally reach the point - the countdown seemed endless: 80-70-60-50-40 metres, how far can it possible be!? But then I was there. It was located just a few steps in front of a row of small trees, inside one of the dried-up paddies. The sky was clear, the signal excellent, and the EPE a fantastic 3m.
Elated, I placed the GPS on the dusty ground to shoot my trophy photos of the device's display and the surroundings of the confluence. Mission accomplished.