Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mighty Mekong River at Thailand and Laos Border


Mekong River is a mighty river that forms the border between Burma (Myanmar) and China and then between Myanmar and Laos, and then border of Thailand and Laos and then Laos and Cambodia. Then it enters into Cambodia and finally it forms several hundreds of kilometers of delta that is spread between Vietnam and Cambodia.
People of India know about Mighty Bharamputra River, that is more than a kilometer wide at Guwahati. Avarage it is 3 kilometers wide.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai


What most people don’t know is that Bharamputra River originates in Tibet and passes just 20 kilometers south of Lahasa. When it enters in India; it rather crashes in Arunanchal Pradesh from the heights of Tibet. Not many people are allowed to visit that area due to political and social reasons (tribal area, these tribes are still primitive and animistic) and few rare photographs are available of that area.
Anyway, several posts are required about Bhramputra but this post is not about Bhramputra.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
What most people don’t’ know that most of the water in the mighty Bhramputra comes from the temperate rainforests of Myanmar.
Same way, Mekong is born in Tibet. Same way most of the water in Mekong Rivers comes from the temperate rain forests of Myanmar.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
In the morning we take a bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and then from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong. Bus route turns out very scenic as usual in Thailand. Northern Thailand is a lush green and temperate rain forested country.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
It is crisscrossed with hundreds of rivers that carry the intense rains drainage. At Chiang Rai, I see Meknog River, very first time in my life. We are in Thailand and other side is Laos.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
5:Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Laos is a deeply religious, Buddhist Country and it is Communist. Well there are just 5 communist countries left now those include China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea.
Once upon a time Loas was called Indo-China
From childhood I dreamed about seeing Mekong River.
Today – A dream comes true.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
We are two, I and my cousin Harsh.
It is evening and we plan to cross the border tomorrow. Near the river we take a room in a very decent hotel.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Hotels in Thailand are great value for the money. Similar hotel may cost more that 4 times in India. Our room is offers the scenes of river and we fall in love with mourhotel as well room.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Our room opens in a flowery gardened courtyard. We can watch river and the town of Huay Xai in Laos at the other side of river. Many long boats are busy in their errands.
Tourists and commerce is still plying on the river across the border. We walk to the wharf, it is a modern building and arrangements and then a jetty to abroad the boats. Trucks can also go across the boats. On the Laos side we can see a mud slip on the name of wharf and a small immigration building.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Then we walk in the town of Chiang Khong and visit several Buddhist temples. In some temples we sit and in some we lie down. In some we drink tea.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
We are welcome here in just any gesture in this peaceful community. When night falls, we buy a case of chilled beer and come at the river and sit on the high levy and watch the lights of boats and Huay Xai. We are celebrating our arrival here; celebrating our first sighting of Mighty Mekong River.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
We walk around in the town and it is very difficult for vegetarians to find desired food. We are not new to Thailand as we came in this countries several times, we can buy vegetable stew but as a matter of fact, pork stock is the base of just any stew in Thailand. So at a restaurant we tell them that we need Buddhist Vegetarian food (Kok kok luang).
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
They wash their pots and boil us vegetables with noodles.
At 10PM we retreat to our room.
Next day we search for tea or coffee.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Nobody drinks tea of coffee in Thailand. Only foreigners and visitors drink tea or coffee and it is very expensive. Finally we find a touristy store near the ferry wharf and we buy coffee for 15 baht each (1 rupee = 0.56 baht).
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Then we get in the line for immigration check-out of Thailand along with other tourists. It takes us just few minutes to get our passport stamped.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
We board in the waiting long boat. As it gets full, it shoots towards Laos and in 10 minutes we disembark in Laos. There we pay visa fee and get our passport stamped.
This turns out an improvised small town. Many colorful Buddhist temples are visible in the hills around here. We walk to the morning market.
It is the capital of Bokeo, which is a province in Laos. The fact is that most visitors to Laos treat Huay Xai as a stopover to other destinations. This is quite unfortunate since there is a lot to experience in this small town in terms of local life in Laos.
Villages around Huay Xai are known for its rice fields and various forms of alcohol that are prepared by the villagers, since locals prepare a genre of hooch which is legal in Lao, but not permitted for consumption in most other countries. The alcohol level of the various drinks is not always regular, since it depends on the fermentation period. On average, it is at 40%.
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
As we come out of Laos immigration office, we visit Talat Sao, it is a local market near bus stand. This market presents a glimpse of a small town life in Laos. Meat and farm produce are being sold or bartered off.
We have another cup of tea with sweet bread in breakfast and then we go to the Buddhist temple that we were seeing from the Thailand side of the river.
The Jom Khao Manilat Temple is designed in the Shan style and was made wholly of teak. The vibrant colors resemble religious sites and structures of Jakarta making it a must-visit for visitors.
Way back in 1548, the Chaing Kong prince of that time contributed a stele-house to the temple, which still stands here. Views form this temple are breathtaking, we see the river for miles, green farmlands of Thailand and the whole town of Chiang Khong and its colorful temples. We hear that sun set views from this temple are suburb but we leave this place to catch the bus to Luang Namtha in Laos, that is near China Border.

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