|4 December 2008
We hired a car with driver and traveled in two days from Yangon to Pyinmana, a town on the road between Taungoo and Meiktila. "We" are two of my sisters-in-law, one of my brothers-in-law and me. In Pyinmana we took the road to the nearby new capital Nay Pyi Taw. We searched for a reasonably priced hotel and at the same time asked around for a way to get to the degree confluence. The degree confluence is located 30 km north-northwest of the capital in the middle of a small village called Tha Yet Taw Village. Sandy trails and tarmac roads in that area are indistinguishable from each other on Google Earth. We had to find a route to the confluence ourselves with the GPS-receiver and the local people as our guides.
The next morning short after breakfast we left Nay Pyi Taw and drove through fields and small villages on the narrow road to Taungdwingyi. After a while we reached the new Asian Highway under construction which will connect Yangon and Mandalay, two former capitals of Myanmar. It came as a welcome but unexpected surprise. At the time of visit the highway was not visible on Google Earth or any other detailed map. According to my GPS-receiver, the new highway (at that time nothing more than a sandy road bed) would take us to the confluence by car as near as possible. Bulldozers and excavators were cutting through the hilly landscape to pave the way for the future road.
When we reached the point where the distance to the degree confluence was at its shortest, some people showed us a small road to a village where the degree confluence should be. Very soon the road to the village turned out to be nothing more than a bullock cart trail. Our driver steered very carefully around the many deep potholes until it was impossible to continue by car. He parked the car along the trail and we walked in the direction of the village.
Just before we arrived in the village we passed a small lake with beautiful lotus flowers on its surface. It was a very quiet place: most people were resting in the middle of the day when the temperature is at its highest. We arrived almost unnoticed to the degree confluence which was hiding in the shadow of some trees behind a house. We met the friendly landowners U Pu and Daw Than Htay. My sister-in-law Ma Htar Htar Thu (an experienced degree confluence hunter assistant) explained to them the purpose of our visit. I am not sure they fully understood the joy I showed while taking photos of their backyard. When we left their property Ma Htar Htar Thu reminded me to give them a little present for their cooperation.
When the construction of the Asian Highway is completed, this degree confluence will be one of the easiest to visit in Myanmar. When the first tourists pass their village, U Pu and Daw Than Htay can expect more visitors looking for some invisible spot in their backyard.