Certainly one of my favorite places in this world. That lazy Mekong River. Life is so laid back there. I did a self-drive along the river for about a week.
The Mekong River begins in Tibet, China enroute to a 3,000 mile journey through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I drove the Mekong along the border of Thailand and Laos on the Thai side.
Like most waterways, the people living along the river make their livelihood from the waters. Either through fishing, transporting goods, or tourism, their lives depend on the waters flowing there.
I want to share with you one moment of the river on this post. This beautiful morning waking up on the Mekong.
As always, these are my original photos. No stock images:
I had stayed in a small 2 star hotel across the river from Laos on the Thailand side. There are no chain hotels in this area so I had to do what I so dislike, pay with cash instead of points. But, it was not too bad. Most the hotels here go for under $50. Even the $30 to $40 is quite common
The hotel may be cheap, but the views were a million dollars! Watch the sun rise as I did;
This particular spot is furthest east in Thailand. This makes this the first spot in the country the sun can be seen in the morning.
Mornings were my favorite time on the river. It just seemed more peaceful, I suppose because many were still sleeping, but not all. Some were already at work on the river as you'll see in the video below.
It's not like it's not quiet and peaceful throughout the day, though. It seems to be tranquil all day long. Of course, there is the sound of the long tail boats that go by, but that's just a peaceful river sound to me. No one seems in a hurry on the river.
Thailand is very big on coffee. I'll do a coffee shop post some time in the future, but I'll tell you now they love their coffee. It's always available throughout the day. It was nice to enjoy my morning coffee in a place as special as this.
To the people who live on the river it is seen more as a commodity. Something from which they must extract their livelihood. I enjoyed helping the economy there in my small way by renting the longtail boats for rides along the river, staying in the hotels, and buying the local food as I traveled. If available, I would even avail myself of a soothing foot massage along the river (Thai massages are brutally painful and I avoid them).
But from what I saw, it was mainly locals touring the river. I rarely saw westerners in this part of Thailand, and those I did see were not tourists but ex-patriots living in Thailand. Perhaps it was the time of year I was there, but this beautiful place was not infested with tourists during my visit.
As you can see, much of the riverfront is not inhabited. Unlike in the USA where it seems there are homes and cabins on every linear foot of water frontage, here it was not so. It could be because the government owns much of the land. Or it could be because, until recently, foreigners have been unable to buy land in Thailand, prohibiting the richer countries from coming in to buy all the prime waterfront land. Whatever the reason, it certainly was a welcome relief..
The Mekong is a special place for me. I try to remain open to life's lessons (I'll admit I'm not that great at it), and the Mekong has taught me to try to slow life down. This life passes us by fast enough, try to remember to take these moments to stay in the present and savor its offer. I'll post more on this topic in tomorrow's post. I think you'll get a "Rush" out of it (think rock band)
I'll leave you with my videos of the morning sunrise and long tail boats on the river: