I was trying to submit my photos to the “Photo Contest: Mekong Diversity Through Your Eyes” organized by the Mekong River Commission. I thought it might look different through the foreign eyes like mine. After reading carefully the contest brochure, I found I am not eligible for this event because of my nationality. I was slightly disappointed at this requirement. My initial intention for this photo contest was just to share my unforgettable journey (see my Blog “Love for Mekong River” here) as I traveled along the border cities of Mekong River from Nong Khai to Bueng Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, and Khong Chiam on August 5-14, 2016. On top of this, in February 2017, I was able to visit the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, which is run through by the Mekong River. In a nutshell, I met and talked to quite a few local people in my Mekong journey, and ate different food from city to city. Certainly, I also took tons of photos and videos, as were posted in my Blog. Such a cross-culture journey has brought me a totally different experience in my life. Therefore, since I can not enter this photo contest, in this short travel note I would love to share informally one photo each city, where I was so obsessed with everything happening there, especially along the riverbank of Mekong.
Sunset at the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge, Nong Khai (8/6/2016). Bringing with me my iPhone, I couldn’t wait to walk along the river of Mekong in the afternoon, in order to see the sunset when I arrived at this little old town. Then, long before the sunset, the sunlight was still quite burning hot. But, in the end it was paid off to see this splendid view right at the bridge connecting these two countries of Thailand and Laos. In the far distance lies this mysterious country of Laos, which I have ever dreamed someday to visit to explore its people and culture, and its nature.
My little friends I met at Bueng Kan (8/7/2016). Arriving in Bueng Kan, I borrowed a bike from the hotel and started to have my biking tour along the river of Mekong. I passed by several fields and villages, and finally found this tranquil place, where I met these two youngsters. It’s always nice for a lonely traveller to talk to local villagers whenever there’s possibility. Though we were in different languages we still can communicate with each other by all kinds of measures. At least, when I asked for this photo-taking, they showed me such a pure and happy smile, with this Mekong River in the background. I know for sure that, wherever they are, the whole being of both are attached to this river, not just in their childhood, but also in their whole life.
My cruise trip at Nakhon Phanom (8/9/2016). I have ever walked along the riverbank of Mekong. I also jogged quite a few times along this river at different places. How about having a cruise trip on the river of Mekong? So I decided to give myself a pleasant one when I first got to this city of Nakhon Phanom. After locating cruise port and schedule, I was excited and waited at the port for the departure. The weather above the Mekong River then was so unstable. It rained this side, yet you saw sunshine on the other side. That’s why I was lucky enough to see a huge double rainbow on my trip because of raindrops and sunlight. In my Mekong journey I always stayed in the Thai side. With this cruise trip, I was able to keep close to the Laos side. Again I imagined what a different life style people may live on both sides of Mekong River. Did people there on both sides have the same ancestral origin? The Mekong River separates Thais from Laotian, yet the ships were built to bring them together again. There’s a time for separation, and there’s a time for gathering together.
Daybreak at Mukdahan (8/11/2016). In my Mekong Journey, as usual, my first morning schedule was to run along the river. It’s the very convenient way I extended my exposure to the landscape of this river as long as possible; it’s about 10 km for my jogging capacity each time. I guess this is long enough to feel the cool morning breath of this great river. If I have a good luck, I may see the rising sun of Mekong River as well. This photo shows you the morning sun hanging slightly above a town of Laos. The sunshine was still soft and, like this villager, it was so enjoyable to sit back and see the golden sky and river.
Boat-repairing villager looking into a far future (Khong Chiam, 8/13/2016). I don’t smoke. But, when I saw this villager smoking and gazing at a far distance, it appears to me that he was quite relaxing after repairing his boats and, at the same time, he was meditatively looking into his far future. It was a peaceful morning as I jogged into his hiding place where he was fixing the boats. He did not notice my presence and my photo-taking in the back until I was getting closer and closer, and said hello to him. He turned and smiled to me. I asked for a selfie and he made a silent yes. We had a photo together, and this leaves me thinking about a Mekong person living in a different world from mine.
This boat is where we the family belong (Phnom Penh, 2/9/2016). I would say this photo is one of my favorite ones among my Mekong Photo Album. Guess how many persons in this boat. I was tracking down this boat from the spot near the Central Market, Phnom Penh. This boat caught my eyes because of “a family in there”. I was wondering and just could not imagine how this family, parents and kids, live on this boat day after day. Did they have their own house on the land? Or that’s the only place they belong. Where did they have their meals? What was their financial revenue? Catching fish from the Mekong River? And kids in such a living environment, what impact will be on their world viewpoint when growing up? Well, lots of questions rose from my mind. By the way, there’s one more baby staying inside the boat tent. It’s 4 in 1.