BFF-29 Lost in China: Thai with dementia returns home after 640 kms detour

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Lost in China: Thai with dementia returns home after 640 kms detour

BANGKOK, Feb 15, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A 59-year-old Thai woman with dementia
who left home eight months ago to see her son nearby, only to apparently walk
640 kilometres (400 miles) into China, arrived back in the kingdom Friday.

Kaeomanee Arjaw, who is from the ethnic Akha hill-tribe, was reported
missing on June 12 from her house in the Thai province of Chiang Rai, part of
the mountainous “Golden Triangle” zone which borders Laos and Myanmar.

She was found in the southern Chinese city of Kunming in late January
carrying a Thai identity card, helping officials swiftly contact the local
consulate.

China borders both Laos and Myanmar and it was not immediately clear which
route she took across the remote frontiers or how long her journey took.

“She told officials she went there by foot, she kept walking, asking for
food from stalls along the way,” Colonel Aekkorn Butsabarbodin, of Chiang Rai
immigration police told AFP.

On Thursday Kaeomanee’s daughter Suchada, 35, flew with Thai officials to
Kunming where the pair were filmed clasping each other — the daughter on her
knees, sobbing with relief — in an emotional reunion.

In the footage, an official asks the woman where she was going when she
left her daughter’s home last June.

“I went to see my son… I met him, then I kept walking,” the woman
answers. “There were no cars around.”

She had lost 20 kilograms along her journey, her jubilant daughter added.

Kaeomanee and her daughter flew back to Chiang Rai on Friday.

BSS/AFP/BZC/1935HRS