04-Jun-2009 -- It was a pleasantly cool June morning, monsoon clouds heralding the arrival of the rainy season, when I set out for this degree confluence. And I was in an adventurous mood, excited and in high spirits. The goal for the day was 14N 101E - the confluence closest to the Thai capital, Bangkok. (As the city is centered around 13.75N 100.60E, it beats 14N 100E by a couple of kilometers.) After my successful visit to 16N 104E two months earlier this would be my second confluence, and again, I'd be the second person to get there. And this time, I had something special in store, because having recently started with geocaching (and planted 3 urban caches in Bangkok), I had developed the idea to hide a cache at the confluence. This would provide a unique opportunity for fellow GPS freaks to kill two birds with one stone! (It is not the first time that this has been done, but it is quite rare.)
The approach to the confluence site involved something of a 270 degree spiral motion. The first leg of my trip consisted of driving up the At Narong-Ram Inthra Expressway and Eastern Outer Ring Road north beyond Lam Lukka (where it crosses the 14 degree parallel) and to Thanyaburi (Pathum Thani province). From there I continued in ENE direction on the #305 Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok highway to Ongkharak, passing some 15 km north of the confluence. Ongkharak is a district town in Nakhon Nayok province, located at 14.12 N, 101.00 E. There I turned onto road #3001 towards Bang Nam Priao (Chachoengsao), which I followed for 15 km in SSE direction and which brought me due east of the confluence. Google Earth had told me there was a local road on the northern side of an east-west running canal (Khlong 22) that I could follow to the immediate vicinity of the confluence, which is also just north of the canal. This area is in the Srisa Krabue ('buffalo head') community of Ongkharak district. The road turned out to be in bad repair, and I tried to dodge the numerous potholes as good as I could while going west for the last 7 km.
Then the final phase began. I spotted a house with a blue roof on my right side that was clearly the same as on the Google Earth printout I had brought with me. Shortly before the confluence, a bridge crossed the canal, linking to a parallel road on the southern side. I knew there must be a track branching off on the left, leading directly to the point – but missed it although driving slowly, as inconspicuous as it was. So I had to turn around, then left the road and drove down the grass track. Well, it more resembled a lawn parcel 10 m wide and 150 m long, ending at the canal. When I got out of the car, the GPS indicated I was a mere 30 m away. Now that’s as convenient as they get, isn't it.... I had left home at 11.00 and now it was 12.30. The distance as-the-crow-flies is 52 km, while I had had to travel 94 km on the road to get to my destination.
And a beautiful spot it was, too! Apparently it formed the access to a 'farmhouse' (corrugated-iron-shed) a bit to the east of my position and an irrigation pump a bit to the west. Quiet and serene, with some sorts of palm trees and bamboo stalks swaying gently in the breeze, occasionally punctuated by children's shouts and laughter from the school across the khlong. But wait….. there was a radio playing as well, and closing in I found its sounds came from a motorbike with sidecar (the type that is often used to sell food on the streets, complete with attached umbrella), parked almost exactly on the confluence! And its owner nowhere to be seen – I assumed he was collecting something in the nearby fields/woods, or maybe gone fishing. What bad luck! Just a moment ago everything had seemed perfect, and now this. I only hoped he wasn't also the owner of the land parcel and he wouldn't be shocked at the sight of a foreigner in this rather remote place and/or ask me any questions. But undeterred, I continued my quest, and it turned out the confluence was actually 7-8 m to the east of the motorbike, near a pair of tall palm trees. I got a fairly good EPE of 6 m, despite of the greenery overhead. You can see part of the mentioned bike in picture #5. I had just located the point and started taking photos in all directions when the owner came back. I was partly hidden from view and he either didn't notice me or chose to ignore me, and drove off. (I then explored where he had come from and came to the conclusion he had probably checked on the irrigation equipment by the canal.)
Anyway, I was now ready for part two of my mission: I had brought a spaghetti sauce glass with a cache note in Thai & English and some coins, and looked around for a suitable hiding place not too far from the confluence point – which I quickly found, and after applying some camo tape, the cache was put into place. See the link at geocaching.com (including more photos) if you are interested.
More than contented with the outcome, I drove home via the south side of the canal and road #3001 to Bang Nam Priao and road #205 to Nong Chok/Minburi in Bangkok's east, another 82 km, thus completing the full circle and concluding a very pleasant trip at 15.00, four hours after having left home.
Remark: The only previous visit to this spot had been 7 years ago, but I found the area largely unchanged. However, there was a slight discrepancy, as my GPS indicated the confluence was NOT in the spherical palm tree, but 13 m to the SSE of it. (I measured that tree at 14d00.007N, 100d59.998E, but in the first visitor's pictures the reading shows 14N, 101E.) A bit of a mystery, as 2002 was already in the post-Selective Availability era, and the accuracy stated is 5 m. Can't be blamed on plate tectonics, either. ;-)