A Marriage and the Magical Mystical Mekong

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There is something magical and mystical about the Mekong River.

I am not talking about the fireball-shooting snake monster that lives in its waters. Although that story does add to the charm. And it's not because the Mekong is necessarily a beautiful river. At least near Vientiane and Nong Khai it cuts a wide brown path through a nondescript flat landscape.

But there is something special that I feel every time I visit it and I am always happy when I stand on its shores.


The fireball-shooting snake monster vs an Elephant. Wat Pho Chai, Nong Khai, Thailand

Perhaps part of it is that the Mekong is one of the world's great rivers, one that every child learns about. And to think that I have the opportunity to visit it so many times, on the other side of the world from my childhood, it amazes me how my life has turned out so far.

And perhaps part of it is the culture that runs on both sides of the river. There's just something about the Isaan/Lao culture that fills me with a peaceful, relaxed feeling. Time moves slowly here and the people are warm and friendly.

This past weekend, I attended a wedding in Udon Thani, and on Saturday afternoon, some friends took us for a day trip to nearby Nong Khai, where I was able to visit the Mekong again. We shopped for a bit at the huge riverside market (where I bought a bag of amazingly delicious and cheap golden raisins), and had Vietnamese style nam neuang at a riverside restaurant.

The wedding was also a lot of fun. It was my first time to experience a Thai style wedding, where the groom first has to pay the youngsters outside to allow him to enter the room, then pays a dowry to the family and adorns his bride with golden bracelets. A string is tied between the heads of the bride and groom to show their new link, and all of the guests pour water over the happy couples hands.


The groom "bribes" his way into the wedding ceremony.

The reception that night was a lot of fun as well. Eventually we ended up at Wine Society for some late night (for this old man at least) wine drinking and dancing in front of the band.

But as much fun as we had, for me the highlight was still to spend a little bit of time on the shores of the Mekong. I hope I can return again soon.

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This page contains a single entry by Stuart published on July 2, 2013 5:07 PM.

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