14-Feb-2002 -- Continued from 16°N 104°E.
After leaving 16°N 104°E we got back on road 23 and headed west until we were about 6km due north of the confluence. At that point we looked for roads in the direction we wanted to go. By now we had gotten used to get what we wanted and so it was no surprise that we were able to drive on paved roads to within 1.45km of the confluence. Not seeing any promising road that might take us closer, we parked and started our little hike.
The layout of the land reminded me of rural Europe: Villages connected by small, winding roads surrounded by fields. In this case the main crops grown were rice and tapioca. Load music could be heard from a village less than one kilometer from where we parked. Apparently it was played for the benefit of the people working the fields.
We walked the small footpaths that are used by the farmers to access their fields. With the fields being small we were not forced to make too many detours and could maintain a pretty good heading. Along the way we talked to a lady working a tapioca field and learned that this was the time of year when the farmers try to get rid of as much weed as possible before the rains start in March/April.
We arrived at the confluence (elevation: 744ft (227m), EPE: 0ft) at about 1:45 pm, only 3.5 hours after leaving 16°N 104°E. The confluence is located in a rice field. The area is relatively flat with gently sloping hills.
On our way back we met a group of women resting in a 'hut' (roof only, no walls), taking their lunch break. They wanted to know what brought us out here. We gave our standard reply: Taking pictures. But why had we picked the hottest time of the day? Good question, it was very hot... Looking at us in shorts and t-shirt they then told us to at least dress appropriately for the heat and to put on more clothes to protect us from the sun. Our dress was indeed quite different from theirs: They were completely covered head to toe (including gloves), only the eyes and fingertips showing. In our defense I have to say that we were wearing a healthy layer of sunscreen (SPF 35).
When we arrived at the car we cranked up the air condition and headed west with 16°N 102°E in our sights.
Continued at 16°N 102°E.