Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Posts tagged ‘nakhon phanom’

Border hopping


For several hundred miles, the Mekong river acts as the border between Laos and Thailand. For most of this part of my Mekong trip, I stayed on the Lao side of the border, but for a few days at the end of June I crossed over to Thailand, partly to get a new Lao visa, and partly just to see the other side of the river.  Although there is a ferry service connecting the two sides, this now seems to be reserved for Lao and Thai nationals only. Everyone else has to travel by road, across one of the impressive new Friendship Bridges spanning the river.  From Tha Khaek in southern Laos, I took the bus (along with a boisterous extended Vietnamese family) to Nakhon Phanom in Thailand, where I stayed for a few days before travelling downriver to Mukdahan for a night, from where I crossed back into Laos via a different bridge, travelling on to Savannakhet.  I’ve written before about how countries along the Mekong gradually merge into one another in border regions, and these riverside towns were another example of that,  although the Thai side was noticeably busier and more prosperous.  These pictures were all taken in Tha Khaek, Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan.

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Related posts:

Mekong views

130524-277-editedJinghong, Yunnan province, China

Looking through the pictures I’ve posted from my Mekong trip, I noticed something missing: there are hardly any pictures of the river itself.  There are a few reasons for this, I think.  I naturally incline towards pictures of people – they’re the pictures that I’m best at, and that I most enjoy taking, but I do sometimes feel the need to broaden my repertoire a little.  I don’t have many regrets about this trip, but one of the few I do have is not getting more good landscape and river shots.  I remember being on a long bus journey in Laos, between Savannakhet and Pakse, speeding past rice paddies in the rain.  As the rain stopped and the late afternoon sun emerged, the fields were lit up in the most beautiful, soft, warm light.  You’ll have to take my word for it, because I didn’t get a picture.  As I said, I was on a bus at the time, and that bus wasn’t stopping for anyone.  I spent a few days in Pakse after that bus journey, but never saw that beautiful light again, so that rice paddy image only exists in my memory.  This is just one example of a great picture that I didn’t take, along with the countless early morning street scenes that I was too lazy to get up in time for.   So I’m a little disappointed with the landscape pictures that I actually did take – they’re just not as good as the ones in my head, or perhaps it’s just that they don’t grab me as immediately as my best people shots.   Whatever the reason, I neglected to post many Mekong landscapes (riverscapes?) while I was travelling, so I’ve collected a few together to post now.  These pictures were all taken between May and August this year.

130611-005-editedPak Beng, Laos

130613-089-editedLuang Prabang, Laos

130615-078-editedLuang Prabang, Laos

130619-045-editedFerry across the Mekong (1), Luang Prabang, Laos

130627-086-editedView of Laos at dusk from Nakhon Phanom, Thailand

130718-371-editedStorm clouds gathering, Kratie, Cambodia

130807-255-editedChau Doc, Mekong delta, Vietnam

130821-056-editedVinh Long, Mekong delta, Vietnam

130821-062-editedVinh Long, Mekong delta, Vietnam

130821-173-editedFerry across the Mekong (2), Vinh Long, Mekong delta, Vietnam



I nearly missed this temple altogether.  I was wandering the streets of Nakhon Phanom in northern Thailand with no clear plan in mind, with one eye on the threatening clouds overhead and half a mind to stop walking and take shelter somewhere with a cold beer.  Instead, I walked on for another block, and came across Wat Srithep.  An hour or so later, I left with some of my favourite pictures from this trip so far.  130628-153-edited 130628-171-edited 130628-186-edited 130628-192-edited 130628-216-edited 130628-088-edited

I was only in Thailand for three days. After leaving Vientiane, I continued south, spending an uneventful couple of days in Tha Khaek (that rain again), before crossing the Mekong into Thailand and the border town of Nakhon Phanom. My Lao visa was about to expire, and although I could have had it extended without leaving the country, it seemed like a good opportunity to see the other side of the river for a couple of days.  I’m now back in Laos, in Savannakhet, which is lovely, and this blog, which has been lagging behind my movements for weeks, is now almost up-to-date.