Published for the Royal Geographical Society by J. Murray,
Text on page 62
NOTES OF A JOURNEY ON
whirlpools. a Rapida is often a misnomer; for what with whirlpools, the sudden capricious rushes of water boiling up in a mound of spray, and flowing wildly in apparently any direction but the one by which it will eventually get out, and the great back eddies and counter currents below, the boat, alternately dragged to the right bank, spins round on the edge of a whirlpool, hurries over on a mass of foam to the left side, and there caught and hurried up the side again, or swirled off downwards into another whirlpool, spends several minutes in passing down a hundred yards, though every hand is straining at the oars, and steersman and bow-oar are lugging for dear life to keep her straight, and save her ends from being caught up on the rocks at which she is hurled.
Such are many of the worst of the Mekong rapids, which will
prove too much for any number of steamers, extending often, as they do below Chieng Kan, for miles. Even the great rushes of solid water, and converging lines of breakers of the rapids, where, as in the Keng Luang below Luang Prabang, the already compressed water has to fight its way over a shelving bank of huge shingle, of which each stone is often as big as an average Laos house, will prove easier to navigate. But in the Nam Oo the shallowness of the water is the danger, and there is often, as in Keng Luang two days up, a fall straight over a dioritic ledge of 3 feet. This class of rock it is which forms the rapids, and when the limestone hills retire from the river edge, and low-lying, round-topped hills less densely jungled, come in, one may look out for a rapid and change of formation.
The villages up this river are very poor, except in ducks, which are seen swimming merrily about in all the quiet reaches, and notThe villages up this river are very poor, except in ducks, which are seen swimming merrily about in all the quiet reaches, and not