On the Mekong

We must give a very big thankyou to Mr Watchara Lewpongsawat and his wife, owners of Tam-Mi-La Guest House and Bungalow at Chiang Khong, who sponsored our stay by the Mekong with accommodation. We are very grateful for your warmth and hospitality.

Mr Watchara Lewpongsawat, who sponsored our stay by the Mekong, with Gavin
Mr Watchara Lewpongsawat, who sponsored our stay by the Mekong, with Gavin

Our day began on the Mekong river. We passed some of the rocks that local people have fought to protect from being blasted by the Chinese government to create a river channel for larger boats. Then we came to a very beautiful place, to meet with Uncle Sao Rawangsee, a wise man (aged 77) of the river. We began to interview Uncle Sao when suddenly he noticed that he had caught a fish on one of his lines. That was the end of the interview. Lena and I grabbed the camera and microphone and rushed down to the river, into his little fishing boat and out to where the fish was. Uncle Sao is widely respected as a wise man of the river and many people come to stay with him. He said that last year he saw the biggest flood ever. He doesn’t believe that we can make things cooler because too many factories are being built along the river. He is not afraid of anything. Whenever he goes onto the river he says a blessing of thanks to the Mekong. He says that people who don’t do this are cursed by a river spirit (known as the Nakha, which is half fish and half snake) and lose their spirit.

Uncle Sao, wise man of the Mekong river
Uncle Sao, wise man of the Mekong river

Our time with Uncle Sao was too short, but long enough to hear and film some of his words of wisdom. From there we traveled to Huay Sa village, where a Lahu community lives. We spent time there listening to their music and singing, as they were celebrating the last day of their New Year celebration.

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