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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Travelling along the Mekong River (Thailand)

Clearing sky after a small rain
After visiting "Phu Phrabat Historical Park" (November 2013) we did travel along the Mekong River to Chiang Khan. We did follow the Mekong river along the mountains and there are many stunning views, small villages, temples and waterfalls. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Mighty Mekong River .... the Future

The Mekong River plays an important role in South East Asia for agriculture, transport and tourism. And while living in Thailand and traveling in SEA the Mekong River has drawn my attention and whenever I am nearby this mighty river I have to stop somewhere, somehow and overlook the river. There is something that attracts me to this river. So join me in a few stories about this river.



This is the fourth and last story in the sequel "The Mighty Mekong Story".
The first story was "The Mighty Mekong River .... a brief overview".
The second story was "The Mighty Mekong River .... A bit of History and Culture".
The third story was "The Mighty Mekong River .... Traveling and Tourism

With all the economic changes going on in the region of the Mekong River the future of the river is changing rapidly. And not always for the better.

With all the roads being build in Laos and Cambodia the good old times of ferries is disappearing and bridges are being build on many places. And because of that some places & villages along the river are changing because there is no reason anymore for people to make a stop-over there or to have a market there. With things like that the Mekong River is loosing a part of its charm. On the other hand for some local people it might bring new opportunities and much easier transport to other places in the region.

For transport in the region of course bridges are needed.
1. Lua Namtha (Laos) - Shan (Myanmar) under construction
2. Nong Khai (Thailand) - Vientiane (Laos) used for road + rail
3. Second Nong Khai bridge in the planning with rail-road
4. Nakhon Phanom (Thailand) - Thathek (Laos)
5. Mukdahan (Thailand) - Savanakhet (Laos)
6. Chiang Khong (Thailand) - Hoaxyxay (Laos) just finished
7. Bung Khan (Thailand) - Paksan (Laos) in very far planning stage
8. Paklay (Laos) under construction
9. Pakse (Laos)
10. Pakse (Laos) - Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) in very far planning stage
11. Don Khong (Laos)
12. Kampong Cham (Cambodia)
13. Strung Steng (Cambodia) not sure in planning or construction already going on
14. Kandal (Cambodia)
15. Neak Loeng (Cambodia)
16 t/m 19. In Vietnam are 4 bridges

Although the bridges will bring many positive and some negative change for the places where the bridges are build (or being build) there is something that is much worse ... dams in the Mekong River itself and in rivers that contribute to the Mekong River.  With all the economic changes going on in the region there is a huge demand for electricity and one of the solutions for this is hydro-electric. And for that you need dams. So currently there are being build a few dams and many other dams (in China and Laos) are in the pipe-line. The locals do not really benefit from this electricity as most of it is sold to places far away (like in Thailand & China).

That means building of dams, creating of new lakes, changing the flow of the river, changing the options of transport over water and most of all a change of the habitat for animals (fish) in the river. And with the creation of new lakes, land and all villages are destroyed and the water-level of the river is becoming lower every year.

Personally I think the the Mighty Mekong River will loose it's MIGHTY because of the building of dams in China, Laos and maybe even Cambodia. And it will not only loose its mighty but also a part of its biodiversity (due to the lack of migration due to the dams). And less mighty means less water what again will have a huge negative influence on the agriculture along the river and especially in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Besides that I think that the Mekong River will loose a part of its charm due to the building of the many bridges.

For some more information about the future of the Mekong River:
Dams & Food Security in the Mekong River
Save The Mekong River
Controversial dams in the Mekong River
International Rivers
National Geographic
WWF Greater Mekong Region

For all stories about The Mighty Mekong River just click on the label "MekongStory". For all postings relating to the Mekong River just click on the label "MekongRiver".

If you like to travel along the Mekong River in Laos or Cambodia,  NOW is the time to go as rapid economic development will change this countries very fast. And travel-wise not for the better.

For private or VIP holiday trips along the Mekong River you can of course have a look HERE

Saturday, 28 February 2015

A day in Kampong Cham (Cambodia)

The famous bamboo bridge of Kampong Cham.
Evening at the boulevard with small restaurants

Kampong Cham is a nice little town along the Mekong river with a handful of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants. We enjoyed our diner and lunch at "Mekong Crossing Restaurant".

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Crossing the Kong to Don Khong (Laos)


Crossing the mighty Mekong river to Don Khong, one of the 4000 islands in the Mekong river. 
BTW not to be confused with the island Don Khone, what is about 20 km south. Soon this river crossing will not be done anymore as there is being build a bridge (or maybe it has been finished already).

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Mighty Mekong River ..... Traveling & Tourism

The Mekong River plays an important role in South East Asia for agriculture, transport and tourism. And while living in Thailand and traveling in SEA the Mekong River has drawn my attention and whenever I am nearby this mighty river I have to stop somewhere, somehow and overlook the river. There is something that attracts me to this river. So join me in a few stories about this river. It will be short stories, just to encourage you to find out more about this great river.

This is the third story in the sequel "The Mighty Mekong River".
The first story was "The Mighty Mekong River .... a brief overview".
The second story was "The Mighty Mekong River .... A bit of History and Culture".

With so many countries and cultures that the river is passing it has become a inspirational source for travelers from all over the world to explorer. My part of traveling on or along the river goes as far as I have been myself.

Traveling on the Mekong River between Burma and Laos (about 160 km)
In 2004 I traveled on the Mekong River between Burma and Laos from Xiang Kok (Laos) to Huay Xai (Laos). And after a last lunch in Laos we took the ferry to Chiang Khong (Thailand). I made this trip on a 4-persons speed-boat! That means about 4 hours uncomfortable sitting in a boat with a hell of a noise from the huge engine. Not to mention "flying" along rapids & big rocks in the river. Not a save way of transport and although it was a spectacular experience I would never do it again. With this boat trip you also are passing the "Golden Triangle".

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Bicycling on the so called highways of Thailand

In the weekend of 22 February 2014 a cyclist from Chili was killed in a traffic accident on Mithraphap road (between Khon Kaen and Nakhon Ratchasima). He was trying to cycle 250.000 km around the world in 5 years and he was far on his target. In Singapore he had met his to be wife and they had a child. His wife and baby were with him in a small car behind his bicycle. His wife suffered a broken leg and his baby was unhurt. They were struck by a driver that had not seen them. Details on how you can not see a bicycle in full day-light remain unknown.

It is a very sad affair indeed and my thoughts are with his beloved ones who are left behind. It is not the first time something like this happened. In 2013 a British couple was killed along the Thai roads after 19 months traveling all over the world. And it are not only tourists that get killed ... on a daily base many Thai die in traffic accidents.

As motorbike rider I am on the roads of Thailand quit often and it seems that South East Asia has become a favorite place for tourists to make Free Independent Bicycle Trips.  I see regularly tourists on bicycles along the roads of Thailand. What surprises me is that they choose the go over the so called "highways" of Thailand. Would you do that at home also? As motorbike rider I know how dangerous the Thai "highways" are, it are actually not highways but just big main roads.

Why do cyclist choose to use the big main roads in Thailand while there are so many options for more safe roads? I do not know, but maybe the answer is because they do not realize that there are other good options. The latter is something I will try to work out with some cyclist & motorbike rider friends. So we can create and offer options for people who want to ride their bicycle in Thailand in a safe way.

Thai highways are NOT SAFE! They are dangerous and especially for bicycles. Wait let me write that again

Thai highways are NOT SAFE!
They are dangerous!

Before you are going to make a long distance bicycle (or motorbike) trip do some research, get a good map and avoid as far as possible the main highways!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Rai Seang Arun Resort (Chiang Rai, Thailand)

Our room
The name of this resort means something like "Garden with morning light" and we did find it by accident while driving along the "Mae Nam Khong" (Mekong river) coming from Mae Sai after a visa-run. We did visit here in 2010 but it was build in 2008 and it is located in the middle of nowhere right on the banks of the river overlooking Laos.

They have about 5 wooden bungalows directly along the river, all with private balcony, airco, TV, open-air bathroom with shower and nice books to read. And next to the bungalows is a terrace of the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and diner. The grow their own vegetable so it is all really fresh.

View from our private balcony over the Mekong river
At the formerly rice-fields behind are about 6 other wooden bungalows with a great view over the all valley. From here you see the beautiful morning light! Of course there is no swimming pool, but who needs that on such a great location? You go to sleep with a sunset over the Mekong river and wake-up with a sunrise between the mountains. There is a library with internet connection via IpStar. The staff is very friendly and helpful. We enjoyed it very much. A perfect place on a beautiful trip.

Sunset over the Mekong
The hotel might be in the middle of nowhere but the area here brings many stunning views over an mountain landscape in the border area with Laos, with old Chinese settlements where all signs are still in Chinese. By the way they also have a guesthouse in Bangkok in a nice colonial style house.

See Raisaengarun Resort

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Mae Nam Khong (Luang Prabang, Laos)

Photo probably made in 2008
This photo was taken from the peninsular between the Mekong River and the Khan River and overlooking the Mekong River (also called Mae Nam Khong).

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Coffee Club (Pattaya, Thailand)

Sorry no photo this time. I was in for a European style lunch and went to "The Coffee Club" on Naklua road in Pattaya-Naklua. As the name already says its a coffee shop serving great coffee and cakes. But it is a bit more as just a coffee shop as they also serve great breakfast & lunch and they stay open until the evening. So I assume they will also serve diner. The food is European / Italian style. The service is perfect, they have indoor & outdoor seating and free WiFi. I loved it, although I must say it was a bit expensive. I had 1 "lean ham" sandwich, 1 ice-tea and 1 cake. That all for about 500 Thai baht. All good but a bit expensive.

It is part of a chain of coffee shops see The Coffee Club Thailand

Friday, 20 February 2015

Along the mighty Mekhong river (Chiang Khan, Thailand)


A bit late sunrise about 5 km east of Chiang Khan "city" at Kaeng Kood Koo, where the mighty Mae Nam Khong (Mekong river) makes a sharp turn. From here you can make small boat trips over the river. And of course there is a market, restaurants and even a nice looking resort "Chiang Khan Hill Resort"

See Chiangkhan Hill and Riverside Chiangkhan

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Mighty Mekong River .... a bit of History & Culture

Rapid in the Mekong River in South Laos
The Mekong River plays an important role in South East Asia for agriculture, transport and tourism. And while living in Thailand and traveling in SEA the Mekong River has drawn my attention and whenever I am nearby this mighty river I have to stop somewhere, somehow and overlook the river. There is something that attracts me to this river. So join me in a few stories about this river. It will be short stories, just to encourage you to find out more about this great river.





This is the second story in the sequel "The Mighty Mekong River".
The first story was "The Mighty Mekong River .... a brief overview".

Now you will think ... "History about a river?". Well yes as in the years passing this river had a great influence on the countries and people living along the river. It was in 1540 that the river was first put on a European map and it is said that a Dutch expedition led up to the river all the way to Vientiane (Laos) in 1641. About 200 years later a French expedition led from the mouth of the river in Vietnam to Yunnan (China). And they concluded that the river had too many rapids & falls to be used as transport way. It was in 1900 that the origin of the river was officially located. Although there have been some discussion about the correct location, see The Source of The Mekong River and Another source of the Mekong River

Happy (Chinese) New Year

Celebrated according the Chinese calendar between 21 January and 20 February. This year (2015) on 19 February. It is also called "Spring Festival" and starts on the last evening of the old year and lasts until the "Lantern Festival" at the 15th of the first month. So it is the longest holiday time of 2 weeks and is celebrated all over the world in Chinese related countries and of course in all China Towns.

In Thailand that would be especially China Town in Bangkok and the Chinese hill-tribes in Northern Thailand. But even up here in the North-East of Thailand it is celebrated by many people from Chinese origin.

For more information about look HERE
Going for the next New Year ... Songkran!