the Degree Confluence Project


10.7 km (6.6 miles) E of Ban Rai, Nan, Thailand
Approx. altitude: 386 m (1266 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 19°S 79°W

Accuracy: 37 m (121 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View North #3: View South #4: View East #5: View West #6: GPS registration #7: Pierre trying to get a GPS registration near the confluence point #8: John, our "Saviour", Pierre #9: Some confluence points demand more than others #10: Tricky cliffs #11: First and easy crossing #12: Are we not the first at the confluence point?

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  19°N 101°E (visit #3)  

#1: Confluence point at 37 m up the hill

(visited by John Dag Hutchison and Pierre Mangeot)

16-Oct-2010 -- N19E101 - Our Grail.....

From last year's attempt we realized that this could not be done in two days as an outing from Chiangmai. In a noodle shop on the way a talkative minah bird welcomed us, in what students of Thai would consider perfect use of tones and with directions like “over there, turn left, then right, then left. Good luck, good luck”.

With these encouraging words we continued up the hills beyond Nan with its many bends and ups and downs. The road, 1081, had been ravaged by heavy rainfall. Many places it was limited to one file with only the asphalt left on the other and a deep hole below. Lots of warning signs along the road and "Use low gear". Manual gear is an advantage here. We checked the terrain close to where we were last year and settled for starting point, a small track going north from road 1081, a couple of kilometers west of last year's starting point. We then continued to Bo Glua Resort about 45 km further on 1081. A good place, very good food and very hospitable staff. Judging from the others we saw there, probably aimed at honeymooners with cottages spread in the terrain....

Next morning we were at the starting point at 9.30. Good weather, no direct sun. We followed the track about one kilometer, down to a stream a couple of hundred meters below 1081, passed several maize pickers and got confirmed what we discovered after our last visit, that the hill we crossed last year was indeed a dangerous place with mines and unexploded ordinance from fighting about thirty years ago. But the river banks up towards the confluence point were safe, they said. We then realized that keeping our jogging shoes dry was not a realistic objective, something we had tried along the stream. We waded across the river and headed up along what gradually became a valley. As the valley became more narrow, the sides became steeper. The hillside now and then turned into a cliff going straight into the river and impossible to advance along. We had to climb up the steep hillside where the ground was slippery soil and loose gravel (a bit like last year, but here with more trees and bamboo). You had to use your eyes, head, feet and not the least, your arms to haul yourself up or letting yourself down. This was very exhausting....

About a kilometer up the river we came to one of these seemingly impossible obstacles. We checked that the camera, GPS and mobile phones were properly packed in plastic bags and swam across to the other side where the river bank had less obstacles. In this way we crossed the river four – five times before we reached the confluence point area at around 15.30. We were about 37 m from the actual cp which was straight up a rock face of 15 – 20 m. And then another 30 m further up and southwards. From the river bank we could not see that far. So we settled for a registration on the river bank. It was very difficult to get a good reading on the GPS. We imagine it would be even more difficult in the dense foliage at the cp. Climbing up would be an extremely hard and risky task. We also realized that it would be dark in about three hours and headed down the river as fast as we could. We swam more than on the way up (See Pierre's rendition of the event: Youtube video) , but the progress was still too slow to reach the car up on 1081 before dark. Just over half way down the river we saw some smoke and met two young men who came there once a week to fish. They saw our predicament, and one of them took us along with his headlamp and the easy ways he knew along the river. He brought us to the area where we had spoken to the maize pickers and further up through a path in a steep maize field where we in less than an hour climbed from about 300 m to 500 m. We got to the track we had gone down in the morning. Our “savior” turned round and went back to his friend by the river. The last half hour was not the steepest part of our trip, but we were completely exhausted when we reached the car. It was simply physically painful to bend down and get the soggy trainers and wet clothes off and change into something dry....

The valley was beautiful, but we struggled more and more and saw less and less of its attractiveness. We scared some fast fish in the river. We heard some birds on our way out at sunset. Pierre saw a grey/brownish snake of a meter disappear in the bush. There was also a huge butterfly, almost the size of a man’s hand, but very few flowers. Pierre had an unwanted meeting with ants when his head touched a rotten bamboo which opened and spread a couple of good handfuls of ants over his head. He fought them for a hectic while and almost jumped into the river to get rid of them.....

Along the river we came across relatively fresh footprint, going all the way up to the confluence point, the cp which had beaten us last year but created a fire of revenge in us. Or become our Grail. Were we beaten by other cp-hunters?

The GPS and the cameras survived the swimming, but the mobile phones did not. So how do you inform family and friends that you are safely out of the area when all the telephone numbers are stored on the mobile phone which does not work? Our answer was Skype where we had some numbers saved. But we were so tired that we did not think of that before the next day...

To sum up: This is a confluence point for the most dedicated cp-hunters. Nine and a half hour in tropical heat requires at least 3 litres of water, waterproof containers for GPS, camera and other things deemed necessary (no mobile phone coverage along the river), an early start, good ability to swim with long sleeved shirt and jeans, headlamps and dry clothes in the car.

Ps. The time on the GPS is CET (Central European Time)

 All pictures
#1: Confluence point at 37 m up the hill
#2: View North
#3: View South
#4: View East
#5: View West
#6: GPS registration
#7: Pierre trying to get a GPS registration near the confluence point
#8: John, our "Saviour", Pierre
#9: Some confluence points demand more than others
#10: Tricky cliffs
#11: First and easy crossing
#12: Are we not the first at the confluence point?
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)
Warning: Before bushwhacking in these forests seek local advice on the safety. Some of these forests have been used as hideouts by communist rebels in the past. There is potential for unexploded ordinance and land mines.