06-May-2007 -- After the success of 15N 105E, we were in a buoyant mood. We splashed along the muddy track back to the main road and accelerated gracefully northeastwards. We had plenty of time; again, we took the scenic route alongside the Lao border, the road running close to the Mekong.
The country around here is magical. Perhaps it was the persistent rain; perhaps it was the lush countryside, made green by the unseasonal wet weather. But there were some villages, with gorgeous colourful temples and lovely hilly geography, where I would have gladly laid my hat and eked out an existence as a simple rice farmer for the rest of my days. (As long as I could get satellite TV to watch the football and regular delivery of The Nation newspaper.)
A leisurely two hour drive, finally swinging back west to the 105E line, and we were within four kilometres of the confluence on the main road. We turned right onto a rural road and drove north, but the road ran straight and we came no more than 3km away from the confluence. Back to the main road, along a bit further, and another turn. This time looked as if we would be successful.
Along another dirt track, we stopped 1.2km from the confluence and decided to walk when the track became too narrow to drive. We got within 600 metres of the point, but the track veered off in the wrong direction and the forest was too thick to pass without serious commitment.
We headed back to the car, and tried to get at the confluence from another angle. Up another track, this time we got within 500 metres of the point in the car when the track stopped at a dead end in a farmer's garden.
We spoke briefly to the farmer who confirmed that the track ended here. At this point, we decided to turn back. It looked like it would have been a relatively simple matter to get out and walk across the fields to the point, pushing through some undergrowth along the way, but instead I did not. We had driven almost a thousand kilometres from Bangkok, but when it came to the final 500 metres, I could not muster the desire to finish the task.
What was it? Was it a simple lack of will? Was it a feeling that I had seen enough, and I felt I had done enough walking for one day? Or was it a desire to leave the confluence unclaimed, so I would have a reason to return another time? I will never know. But for now, the grey square will only become a white one: its metamorphosis into red will have to wait for another day, and I will still be looking at confluence.org to see if it is still unclaimed.