[center:2yamaq2c]Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong[/center:2yamaq2c]
On my trips to and from Laos I often travel along the Mekong as I can never get enough of it. Although I have seen quite bit of the Mekong both from the Thai and Lao side, there were still areas which "needed to be seen". On this trip the plan was to travel along the Mekong on the Thai border side for as much as possible and feasible. Starting from the Golden Triangle, the plan was to follow the Mekong till where it disappears in Laos near Ban Huay Lek and then drive to Ban Tha Di Mi north of Loei where the Mekong becomes again the border between Laos and Thailand till a bit east of Kong Chiam (Ban Win Buen) where the Mekong flows into Laos and then onwards to Cambodia and Vietnam.
[center:2yamaq2c]Day 1 - Chiangmai to Sop Ruak and overnight in Chiankhong[/center:2yamaq2c]
Leaving home, the weather did not look very promising and the closer I got to Sop Ruak and the Golden Triangle, the shies became darker and darker and by the time I reached the Golden Triangle where the Mekong becomes the border between Laos and Thailand, it was bucketing down. Taking pictures became difficult and most of them show a "grey and gloomy" world.
The Mekong at the Golden Triangle as seen from Phratat Doi Phu Kao - The Nam Ruak, which is the border between Burma and Thailand, joins the Mekong (border between Burma and Laos) and becomes the border between Laos and Thailand.
The Chiangsaen Immigration Checkpoint in Sop Ruak which facilitates gamblers who try their luck in the Chinese Casino on the Lao side of the Mekong.
The rain slowed down a bit but it remained a very gloomy affair with dark grey skies
Chiangsean is the main place where a lot of stuff like fruit, etc. arrives by boat from China
The Mekong seen from Phratat Pha Ngao (N20.24553 E100.10103) in Ban Sop Kham
In order to relief the hustle and bustle of all the freight loading and unloading at Chiangsean, a new harbor is being built a bit more to the east but, as the construction is not yet ready, access was denied.
The turnoff to the new harbor - N20.23312 E100.14607
The view of the Mekong from Wat Phratat Si Hua Wan (N20.24948 E100.17707) near Ban Saeo. Another lonely motor cycle tourist trying to keep his camera dry under a tree while taking pictures
On clear days the Prasath Suwanna Kheukham on the Lao side (N20.40270 E100.26718) can be seen from the Rai Saeng Aroon Hotel on the Thai side - N20.39638 E100.29822 (picture of the view from the hotel taken on a clear day - picture by Rai Saeng Arun Hotel)
Obligatory picture from the Huaisai Man View Point showing the Bokeo Technical and Vocational School in Laos
With all the rains, the Mekong is rising and the water is flowing fast
Later in the afternoon, the weather cleared up a bit and the sun peeked down from time to time.
Checked in at the Tamila Guesthouse in Chiangkhong but as there was still some time left, I made a quick trip to see how the new bridge from Huayxay to Chiangkhong is progressing.
Still a lot of work to be done before the bridge will be open to the public sometime in 2014.