On a trip to Thailand to celebrate our second honeymoon, I convinced my wife to take a
bit of time to try and locate a Thailand confluence.
We have lived in China for the past six years and I have run Bike China Adventures Tour
Company during that time. One thing we have learned while there is how to travel light. We
brought only two small day packs with us which weighted a total of 12 kg, including two
cameras, binoculars, GPS, mobile phone, and computer (plus all the battery chargers) as
well as the weighty paraphernalia that it takes to keep a woman happy. Actually, since we
were both extremely busy before the trip and in desperate need of a vacation, I just threw
the GPS in the bag as an afterthought, just maybe we would be able to do one if we were
It had been 13 years since our last trip to Thailand on our first honeymoon. On
arriving in Bangkok on the first night and spending the night cruising up and down Khao
San Road we had decided that 12 hours of Bangkok’s madness was plenty and decided to
hit the road. We hadn’t been to Pattaya before and thought that it would be worth
checking out. According to Thai tourism statistics, fully one third of the 35 million of
the annual visitors that come to Thailand end up going to Pattaya. Renowned for "A Go
Go" bars and an astounding number of transvestites, it is not exactly a family kind
of place (but we did see a few families with kids there). Our short attention span and a
desire to find a more quiet and relaxing place lead us to decision to go to nearby Ko
Samet, a T-shaped island about 80 km SE of Pattaya.
On the bus to Pattaya I got out the GPS and was excited to find that there was a
confluence only about 13 km away. With some gentle hints and assurances that it
shouldn’t take too long or be too hard to find, my lovely wife, Xiaorong, agreed to
Keeping things light means we can be very mobile and quick to change plans. On the way
out of Pattaya, we decided to give the confluence a shot. Taking a songthaew
(pickup truck jitney with two benches in the back for passengers to jump on and off at
will), we went to the end of the line. We got out at a food bazaar just as it started
pouring rain and had a quick bowl of noodles and fried rice. Afterwards we went in search
of some umbrellas, but purchased rain ponchos instead because Xiaorong doesn’t like
carrying an umbrella. This turned out to be a very good decision.
Back on the road again, we started walking in the direction of the confluence hoping a songthaew
would come by. We saw lots of them headed in the opposite direction, but none headed our
way. I thought this was very odd. Finally after about 20 minutes of walking, an empty songthaew
comes in our direction and we jump in. At the first intersection we came to it became
clear that this guy is not on a regular route because he asks us which direction to go.
The GPS pointer says turn right, so I point right. This goes on for an another two
intersections, at which point the driver gets out and asks Xiaorong where we want to go.
The problem is that she speaks less Thai than I do (which is about five words), although
because she is Chinese, all the Thais think she is Thai. This gets everyone confused.
So the driver asks me to get in the front of the songthaew with him so I can
tell him where to go. The trouble is that I don’t have map, and my only method of
navigating is strictly by the pointer on the GPS. The driver soon catches on and we are on
our way. As the pointer swung from the straight-ahead position to a 90-degree position
left or right, miraculously an intersection would appear. At 10 km from the CP we went
from downtown Pattaya to the Highway 3, then at 7 km away as the pointer swung to the
right, we arrived at an expressway to Rayong, then at 3.5 km again as the pointer swung to
the left the expressway to Bangkok appeared. Each time the driver would confirm our turns
with sign language and say "OK" (which used up his entire English vocabulary)
and give me a big smile and a thumbs-up sign.
I was a bit concerned about how we would fare on the Bangkok expressway, but
fortunately, it wasn’t built as a limited access highway. Once again, at the 1,000
meters mark, the pointer swung to the right and a tiny underpass crossing the expressway
(this being Thailand where the drivers drive on the wrong side… er, left side of the
road). The road we took led us through an area of new condominium housing and rubber
plantations. The GPS guided us along a road to within 330 meters of the confluence at
which point we stopped at a tiny mini-mart and told the driver we would be back in 20
Once again the driver showed amazing trust agreeing to wait for us without payment for
us to return even though took all of our stuff with us. We hiked through a field of rubber
trees and the dodged a few ponds and larger drainage ditches. One was unavoidable and I
had to carry Xiaorong over it. She was an amazingly good sport about the whole thing as
being a certified city slicker she was definitely out of her element.
Skirting a rather fearsome looking white cow we arrived in area pineapple, rubber and
coconut plantations with the confluence point with the actual CP amidst the rubber trees. After returning to our home in China I read that the previous visitor mentioned a large body of water. There was none there when we visited.
Taking the regulatory photos and documenting the happy successful confluencers, we made a
hasty return to our patient driver. He didn’t have a clue what this was all about,
but didn’t seem to care one way or the other. We told him we wanted to go to Rayong
by bus and he dropped us off on the highway at one of the convenient bus shelters that dot
the sides of all Thai highways.
Up to this point no mention of money was make and so the moment of truth was upon us. I
asked him how much and he held up five fingers. I gave a surprised look and countered with
three. Now it was his turn to look crestfallen and he pantomimed the long and circuitous
route we took. I upped the ante to four fingers and we were in agreement with smiles all
Xiaorong and I jumped out and bid our pleasant driver a good day and safe trip as he
left us to continue on our second honeymoon in Thailand.