17-Jun-2001 -- About 2,420 km (1,500 miles) due west of my first confluence visit (Philippines
14N-121E) is the degree intersection of 14N and 100E. It sits in Thailand about 70 km (43 miles) NW of Bangkok, just outside the town of Kamphaeng Saen.
Visiting this location is an easy day trip from Bangkok and recommended for anyone wishing to get out of the cramped hustle & bustle of the city for a brief respite. Being in town for several days of business, I chose to visit the site on Father’s Day (a Sunday, which made for an easy drive up and back due to the lack of traffic). It was well worth the effort.
You will first need to arrange transportation (taxi, hotel car, or self-drive rental). I was lucky in that on Saturday I met Ruangyos Pholruang, a not-so-typical Bangkok taxi driver. Khow (pronounced cow), as he prefers to be called for the convenience of foreigners, is an ex-army officer who speaks fluent English and has a very good knowledge of the areas outside of the city (both rather rare attributes in the local taxi scene). He was interested in the prospect and, after the mandatory haggling, agreed on a price to drive me the next day.
I awoke Sunday to a balmy tropical morning that was threatening rain. Khow showed up at my hotel punctually and, during the course of the day, turned out to be an excellent adventure partner. He’s very friendly with a typical Buddhist "easy-going" attitude, and full of interesting local knowledge that he shared with me during the day. Anyone wishing to visit confluences near Bangkok can contact me by email and I would be happy to put you in touch with him.
From Bangkok we chose to take Hwy 338 to Hwy 4 west about 56 km (35 miles) to Nakhon Pathom, considered to be Thailand’s most ancient city. It is believed that Buddhist missionaries from India visited here in the 3rd century BC. A stop at Phra Pathom Chedi (Buddhist temple compound) in the city center is certainly recommended (see photo #5). Built in 1860, the temple encompasses the ruins of an original 6th century pagoda. The massive dome of the Chedi (main pagoda room) is the world's tallest Buddhist monument.
After your spiritual enlightenment, head north on Hwy 321 about 20 km (12 miles) to the town of Kamphaeng Saen. Your GPS should now be turned on. Just on the southern outskirts of town you will notice that you are almost due west of the confluence. Take your next U-turn (Hwy 321 is a divided road), backtrack a bit, and you will find a dirt road heading east.
Do not be dismayed, as I was, when this road meanders around leading you to a river and tropical swamps between you and your destination. Keep heading east and south, when given the option, and eventually you will come across a small dam in the river that is about 300 m (1,000 ft) SE of the confluence. Here you can park and continue across the dam on foot.
On the other side of the river you can follow trails working your way NW through a small village and jungle. Be sure to give a pleasant hello to all you happen upon ("Sawadee-krup" if you’re male, "-ka" if you’re female). You will be greeted in kind with a broad smile and a bit of curiosity. Continue on and you will emerge to an area of rice paddies that hold the confluence.
Since it would certainly be bad form to tread on these young green shoots destined for future nourishment, please walk along the partition dikes (rice paddies are always partitioned into small sections for irrigation purposes). The actual confluence is at the near-center of a section (location was verified by walking along the dike on all four sides of the section with the GPS). The closest one can ethically get is about 20 m (65 ft) north of the point. The confluence photos were taken from there.
The trip back to Bangkok wouldn't be complete without a stop at one of the floating river restaurants near Nakhon Pathom to sample the very fresh local fare. Thai food is second only to Thai hospitality! The weather had held out all morning but a tropical downpour punctuated our riverside lunch and set the tone for a lazy drive back to the city. All in all a memorable day.
1) The most accurate local map (1:350,000) in English that shows the six (6) closest confluences to Bangkok is produced by the
Prannok Witthaya Maps Center and available at any branch of Asia Books (probably the best selection of English language books and maps in South-East Asia).
2) Don’t forget your DEET to keep mosquitoes at bay. Malaria and dengue are not unheard of in these parts.