05-Dec-2005 -- My sister-in-law Ma Htar Htar Thu and I took a taxi in front of our hotel downtown Yangon in the early morning. The degree confluence was located 30km north-northwest of the capital as the crow flies on the other side of the Hlaing river. I had searched on the satellite image for a road which passes the degree confluence as near as possible and had programmed a waypoint route into my GPS receiver to instruct the taxi driver where to go. The taxi driver looked on the satellite image I had printed on paper and already got a fair idea where he had to bring us. We stopped at a gate along the road after driving for almost two hours through the western parts of the city, crossing the Hlaing river and driving on a small road to the north. Here we started walking along a creek between paddy fields.
Local people showed us narrow paths and banks between the paddy fields in the direction of the degree confluence. After we passed some houses made of bamboo, the walk became very difficult. We took off our Mandalay slippers and had to walk barefoot, because the slippers were sticking deep in the mud and we had to pull them out with our hands. What looked as an easy one hour walk from the road to the degree confluence on the satellite image, turned out to be a tiresome two hour walk. We stumbled through fields with rice stubs, sinking with our bare feet into deep mud and to our unpleasant surprise we also had to wade through crotch-deep water to cross the creek. Finally we reached the degree confluence on the north bank of a pond surrounded by banana trees. The pond was used for fish-breeding.
After I took the necessary photos we asked a man from a nearby house if he would be so kind to bring us back to the road where the taxi driver should hopefully still be waiting for us. I did not like to follow the same route back through the muddy paddy fields and hoped the man could show us an easier one. Unfortunately there was no alternative for crossing the creek than to wade through the water again. In the mean time it was almost noon and getting hot while the sun beat down on our heads. When we reached the bamboo houses halfway to the road, we invited ourselves for a cup of thee. I was getting very thirsty because we had forgotten to bring our plastic bottles with drinking water from the car.
Our temporary guide left us after he pointed out the shortest way back to the gate near the road where luckily our taxi driver appeared to be waiting. Our feet and legs were damaged with many scratches and our clothes were dirty with mud. I had expected the confluence visit would only last the morning, but actually it took the whole day. Happily, all the difficulties were quickly forgotten after we had taken a shower in the hotel, wearing clean clothes again and with the photos of the successful confluence visit inside my camera.
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