Archive for Chiang Khong

The Mekong River between Chiang Khong and the Golden Triangle

Posted in Landscapes, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , on March 12, 2013 by Thim Kwai

I personally know the river section between Chiang Khong/Huayxai and the Golden Triangle since 2006. The road along the riverbanks, it’s about sixty kilometers, is among the most picturesque roads I have ever seen. A small road with potholes and little traffic, mountains and here and there a small village. That’s at least what it was at the beginning of my observations until recently.

Due to the massive economic growth in the Southeast Asian world region there is permanent construction activity. The construction and the automobile sectors are Capitalistic key sectors for any modern economy. In Thailand and the neighbouring countries the traffic growth is enormous (see also: Traffic in Thailand). Every year millions of cars are blown out onto the streets. It’s coming together with the cement industries who are employed to build a number of big projects, particularly highways and bigger roads, but also the new river port at Chiang Saen, the new Mekong Bridge at Chiang Khong/Huayxai and huge areas with terraced houses and now also big river dams. Besides there are many building sites right and left of the parallel road to the river where are new business buildings, stores, temples, administration buildings or private houses are built. I frequently pass on this road every fortnight, and I every time see more and new building activities. That’s so on the Thai side of the Mekong River as well as I see it on the Laotian side.

Observing the river over long afternoons makes me see growing activities on it. More and more boats are passing by. Bigger building sites appear and change the river banks into ugly concrete. Only one bad example is the huge casino construction at the Golden Triangle with a number of additional buildings.

In a few month there will be the 4th Thai/Laos Friendship Bridge opened, linking Chiang Khong/Thailand and Huayxai/Laos. It’s the link for the big traffic between south China and Thailand. Again more traffic will boost, far more trucks than now together with more private cars. Chinese tourism is on the rise in the states where the Mekong is passing through. I see already many cars with Chinese number plates in Chiang Khong. That is just the beginning. There will be more, more, more – more of everything.

The industrialization comes together with a population which has no sense for environmental concerns. The People of Thailand and Laos litter, waste and burn as they can. The surroundings of the river suffered deforestration here already decades ago. Agriculture comes with fertilizers and chemicals. Much of it runs into the river. All the waste water of the villages is drained directly in it.

Overfishing is a big issue. The villagers take out of the river as much as they can. If they don’t eat it themselves, they sell it on the markets. The Giant Catfish, which once appeared in a great number, was a few years ago still living here, but is now just history.

As mentioned above, there are already at least four dams implemented at the upper Mekong in China. They have impact on the water flow. Mekong water in China is used for irrigation. This water is no more flowing down. Sometimes there is so much water taken out, that the river level falls down. In other times there is much rain there and suddenly they flood the river, opening the dams floodgates. Then suddenly the river gardens in the Chiang Saen / Chiang Khong region are flooded.

The Sanyabury Dam and all the dams who will follow it will have the greatest impact also for the river section here. I dedicated a whole article on ‘Damming the Mekong‘, because that is the biggest issue.

To summarize my concerns, I have to claim that here, in the greater Mekong subregion a considerable part of the world’s ecology is going to die. That means a huge step forwards for mankind towards the ‘point of no return’, from when on it’s too late to recover from the global world destruction.

Capitalism is blind dynamics. It’s following an internal code or an inner law. All the development is not for the sake of the people, but only for profit. Making two dollars out of one. Doesn’t matter the consequences.

Besides, the quality of everything what is built here is miserable. Many things are already broken before completed. So, the next step is to either fix the broken parts or let it rotten. In reality both happens. But, in fact, it’s all rotten crap what the industries built here, not meaned to last long. Repairing is following business. And means more environmental impact. And so it goes on, without end.

Well, so it seems. There will be an end. This global socioeconomic system will not come over the mid of the 21st century. When all the basics of our needs, the natural resources are wasted and polluted, we won’t survive.

For more information on the development of this region read ‘The Modernization of Lanna‘.

Read the whole article on the Mekong River