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Rivers of South East Asia  

Mekong River Irrawaddy Chao Phraya and more

Chao Phraya Thailand
Irrawaddy
(Ayeyarwady)
Mekong River
Asean and the mighty streams
Collecting water in the Tibetan Himalaya and from countless tributaries on the way to the delta in Vietnam that is the Mekong, the 12th-longest river in the world and the 7th-longest in Asia.

Its estimated length is 4,300 km. The stream collects lots of water from the Tibetan Plateau and China's Yunnan province plus Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. In 1995 this ASEAN countries established the Mekong River Commission to handle the resources. Because of the Monsoon the seasonal flow varies a lot, but it is still is a major trade route between south China and Southeast Asia.
Mekong River Map
At the moment (2016) the flow is in the greatest danger in its existence and the problem is China. The Chinese claim (illegally) not only the South China Sea for themselves they also block water for Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. A few years ago the river was in most parts navigable with bigger ships today it has degenerated into a minimal flow through which one can wade through in many parts easy.

What happened? The Chinese had by 2016 seven big dams for electricity generation built and almost no water comes through since much is consumed in the agriculture industry, seeps and thereby disappears underground. The Chinese are a reckless power building on their military strenght and only serve their own interests. Regrettably the leaders of ASEAN countries have not the he necessary self-esteem to defy the danger which the Chinese build up.

Irrawaddy Tributaries

Irrawaddy Photos
The main source of ASEAN rivers are the tributaries originating in the extentions if the Tibetan Himalayas.  
  1. at the mekong river
  2. sources of the irrawaddy river
  3. adventure trekking in Myanmar
  4. Trekking to the sources of the Irrawaddy River
A Mekong River Journey
Mekong Photos
The Mekong river pushes its way through six countries, before emptying itself into the South China Sea via an impressive delta in Vietnam. A journey on the water shows faszinating scenery, floating villages, interesting people, plenty of ASEA communities, magnificent temples an great travel destinations.
  1. Source of the Mekong
  2. Gigantic Mekong Rapids
  3. crossing the mekong
  4. gigantic Mekong rapids
Photos
Main sources are The Ping and Nan River which both empty 2 huge reservoirs in National Parks, on the west side it's the Mae Ping NP and further East the Lam Nam Nan NP with the Sirikit Reservoir, they join in Nakhon Sawan Province to form the Chao Phraya Waterway.

Practically every year there is immense flooding during monsoon time and a dry time before for several months. This problem is mainly "manmade" from people who simply don’t know what they do.

Every year horror stories run through the media and they invent all kind of projects to solve the problem which is usually not done but the money for this "projects" often disappears. Next year the same starts again and flood comes to Bangkok where all politicians promise it won’t happen again next year, guess what they announce the next  year? Below is a picture of the Chao Phraya at Ayutthaya where the Lopburi and Pasak  River joins.
  
  1. chao phraya river
  2. Chao Phraya and the selfie
  3. chao phraya river and wat arun
  4. chao phraya river and Chinese temple
Chao Phraya at Ayutthaya
River life in ASEAN
Photos
The main source of the northern ASEAN Rivers such as the Mekong, Irrawaddy and Chao Phraya are the Himalayas. Actually the tributaries originating in the extensions of the Tibetan Himalayas.

Derived from the Sanskrit word "Himalaya" which means "the home of snow". Here are the tallest and largest mountains across Asia which are China, Bhutan, Nepal, India and other. From here some of the water flow to the south east 

An excellent adventure travel destination in particular for mountain climbing, river rafting and other sports activities such as trekking and bird watching. Don’t do camping on your own since you might get unpleasant visits from local guys who want something from you. 
  1. working at the river
  2. river life in an asean country
  3. irrawaddy tributary
  4. lunch on the river
the pathein river
The Pathein River in the West Irrawaddy Delta
19th Century Photos
West of the Pathein River one stream of the Irrawaddy Delta are the two most favourite  beaches of the Yangon crowd which is Chauntha & Ngwesaung seafront. Since they improved the road and built some bridges in the last view years
its not a day drive anymore.
  1. at the Pathein river
  2. waiting for the ayeyarwady ferry at bagan
  3. Irrawaddy at Mandalay
  4. flooding during monsoon
There is a possibility to make the trip by ship from Yangon but it takes two or three days.

Check with the hotel because they know who is making the cruise. 

​Pathein (Bassein) during colonial times was an important harbor of the British often used as a stopover from India to Penang and many naval battles took place here, the British won always since thay had guns the Burmese not.
Popular Irrawaddy cruise deals in Myanmar

Sightseeing and adventure  bound stream because not everything is luxury, just have a look for the sailing boat and you will know what I mean. On the Yangon River (part of the Irrawaddy Delta) they are more consequent and won’t allow foreigners to use this “little boats” at all.

When visiting the country a voyage on the mighty Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) river should be made. For local people this is one way to reach large parts of the country since the road and train system is even more than lousy. Today for tourists this has another dimension and that is called luxury travel on a river vessel. E.g. probably the best of those had been floated the half world around from the Rhine in Germany to become the "Road to Mandalay".

There are some more cruiser

Even refurbished from colonial times were resurrected and renovated. For a start try a cruise in the Irrawaddy Delta this a vast stretch of wetland covering around 20% of the country in the upper south. The best to see this is when approaching Yangon by aircraft just look out by the window. It's very flat and green although in February it gets brown and becomes green again with the monsoon.
  1. irrawaddy cruising at Bagan
  2. ayeyarwady river boats
  3. pagoda in the river near yangon
  4. in the irrawaddy delta
The Orcella RV on the Irrawaddy River cruising near Bagan.
Floating at Mandalay Sagaing

Here is the old center of the country with several ancient capitals around; on the other side is Mandalay the last capital before the British took over. Today this is a beautiful stretch along the water with countless pagodas and temples on the river banks.
Further north is the lazy stream at Mogok it was the main traffic lane until the British came into the country since there were no roads at that time. Actually not much has changed since then since the regimes since WW2 did nothing for any development. They only collected the rubies and other precious stones and gave back nothing.
Chindwin, Kaledan, Salween Rivers
Photos
This valley is shut in still further on the east by the Shan State highlands, which spread away to the Salween (Thanlwin) river.

They provide a home for the Shan, they are closely related to the Thai people and had a long struggle with the for the possession of the valley, but has ended by holding the lesser heritage of the Shan plateau. Beyond the Salween or Thanlwin river lies Thailand.


The valley of the Ayeyarwady narrows and confined in the north, only opens out at Mandalay the former capital of the last Burmese kingdom and widens as it reaches the sea. It culminates in one of the finest deltas.
  1. The Irrawaddy River at Shwebo
  2. The Chindwin at Monywa
  3. The Kaledan River at Mrauk-U
  4. Flooding south of Mandalay
chindwin crossing
One mighty river in the northwest of the country is the Chindwin

The Chindwin River is a tributary to the Irrawaddy. Coming down from the mountains that lie about the upper reaches of the Ayeyarwady, it flows through the Hukong valley and under the Chin territories through scenery of great beauty, till it enters the valley in the center and adds its quota to the volume of the great Irrawaddy which marshaled by hills and mountains makes scenery that is as stately as it is beautiful, as passionate as it is serene.

The hills are visited by tropical rains sustain forests of primeval growth, in which herds of elephants, of wild cattle and deer, wander in comparative peace. For the beach, beaches and leisure check here.

The Kaledan River crosses Rakhine state and empties into the Bay of Bengal

Southeast of Mandalay is the valley of the Sittang river.

Further southeast on the border to Thailand is the low range of Bago hills which separate the border from the Irrawaddy valley.

The Salween (Thanlwin) run along the border and finally pours its waters into the Andaman Sea under the golden spires of Mawlamyine.
The Salween Thanlwin at Mawlamyine