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Home Laos Tales From The Mekong ⇒ “ A Watery Grave

The Mekong: River of Death

4A Watery Grave

While we were discussing the possible origins of the body we had just seen, a well-dressed middle-aged woman, the mother of five children sitting quietly around her, told us about her maid’s father. He had recently been taken with fever, and being old and weak had died. Instead of cremating the body which is the usual custom in this part of the world, the body was wrapped in a grass mat and simply thrown into the river. The body we had seen was quite possibly the result of this kind of ‘burial’, often resorted to during the monsoon season when the rains make cremation impossible.

Another passenger then told how he had lost his wife to the river just over a year ago when she was taking part in some boat races on the river. Her boat hit something in the river, overturned and his wife was snatched away by the current. Even the strongest swimmers have little chance in these tugid waters when the rains have been heavy and she was lost to sight instantly. Despite spending nearly a year and most of his savings in a search down the river he never managed to recover her body and was now returning home, wifeless and penniless, to pick up the threads of his life again.

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