Thursday, March 13, 2008
The Mighty Mekong
From its upper reaches in Tibet, the Mekong River winds its way in serpentine fashion down the foothills of the Himalaya and across the plains of Southeast Asia. The river gets wider and muddier in its southern parts, and for hundreds of miles, it forms a natural border between Laos and Thailand.
Despite the Mekong's status as one of the most recognizable river names, it's actually only the 11th longest in the world. Still, the Mekong is a mighty force and one that sustains the lives of tens of millions of people who live along its banks.
The river is also home to the Mekong Giant Catfish, an absolute monster of a fish that has held a prominent place in local folklore for centuries. In June 2005, a 9 foot Mekong catfish weighing nearly 650 pounds was pulled from the water by a team of fisherman.
This photo was taken from a 747 about 35,000 feet above the Mekong, where it divides Savannaket, Laos from Mukdahan, Thailand. (Thailand is to the left of the river and Laos is to the right)
The river is huge here, more than a mile wide, and its gets even larger during the latter stages of the rainy season, when the downpours are so intense you can feel them in your soul. A bit further south, where the Mekong River enters Cambodia, the river drops more than 50 feet at the Khon Phapeng Waterfall, also known as the Niagara Falls of Asia.