Lost in China: Thai with dementia returns home after a detour of 640 km

A 59-year-old Thai woman with dementia who disappeared from her home 9 months ago and apparently walked 640 kilometers into China, rejoined her daughter in Thailand. Screengrab from the Thai Immigration Police video via AFP

BANGKOK – A 59-year-old Thai woman with dementia who left her home 8 months ago to see her son nearby, only to apparently travel 640 kilometers to China, returned to the kingdom on Friday.

Kaeomanee Arjaw, who comes from the ethnic tribe of Akha, was declared missing on June 12 from her home in the Thai province of Chiang Rai, part of the mountainous area of ​​the "Golden Triangle" that borders Laos and Myanmar.

It was found in the city of Kunming, in southern China, at the end of January with a Thai identity card, to help officials quickly contact the local consulate.

China borders both Laos and Myanmar and it was not immediately clear what path it took through remote borders or how long it took its journey.

"He told the officials that he went there on foot, he kept walking, asking for food from the stalls along the way," said Col. Aekkorn Butsabarbodin, Chiang Rai immigration police at the AFP.

On Thursday, Kaeomanee's daughter, Suchada, 35, flew with Thai officials to Kunming, where the two were filmed gripping one another – her daughter kneeling, sobbing with relief – in an emotional meeting .

In the movie, 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 replies. "There were no cars around."

He had lost 20 kilograms during his trip, added the cheering daughter.

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

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