Allow me to introduce you to Samnieng… that’s him in the middle of the picture on his way to work on a typical Monday morning in August. He lives about a kilometre from this spot on the wrong side of the river from his place of work which lies on a small island amid the mighty Mekong river of Laos in the area known locally as Siphandon, or The 4000 Islands. Actually, Samnieng’s walk to work every day is not as unique as you may imagine in this part of Laos despite the obvious severity of the journey. Many of the thousands of uninhabited islands in the area offer a unique habitat in which local fishermen can exercise their skills at catching the fabulous bounty of large fish that frequent these isolated rapids throughout the year. Of course there are obvious drawbacks in this line of work. During the rainy season the river swells horrendously rendering many of the prime fishing spots so dangerously inaccessible as to make them completely unreachable but for the efforts of the few brave and/or foolish fishermen who dare to venture where the majority fear to go.
Brave or foolish? I’ll let you decide… however Samnieng has been working here since he was a small boy and he assured me that as long as the fish keep coming to his part of the Mekong to spawn then he has no plans for a career change.
Interested in people who work under extreme conditions? Click HERE to meet Mongonjay, a honey gatherer from the Central African Republic.
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