Photographer's Note

I snapped this girl on a foggy day looking over the once mighty Mekong at Jinghong. The Mekong is dammed less than ten kilometres up the river from this point, and many additional dams are planned upstream. The bridge is also new: completed in the last ten years, it finally connects the 'Dai' (really Lao / Thai) lands of Xishuangbanna and completes the reigns of Chinese empire.

When the German explorer Otto E. Ehlers walked from Rangoon to Jinghong in the late nineteenth century, he was prohibited from crossing the Mekong here by Chinese administrators, who by chance were also in the area on an annual tribute-collecting trip south from their prefectural capital in modern day Simao, hundreds of kilometres to the north. This key historical record shows that just over a hundred years ago the effective border of China was significantly north of this point, and the local people were free and independent.

Probably not thinking of such grand themes but still standing alone on the stepped concrete embankment that, devoid of life, makes up the new eastern edge of the river, the girl in the picture seems remorseful.

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Additional Photos by Walter Stanish (pratyeka) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 75 W: 20 N: 61] (281)
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