Ang Nam Ngum is the vast artificial lake created by the damming of the Nam Ngum. The highest peaks of the former river valley became forested islands after the valley was inundated in 1971. Following the 1975 PL conquest of Vientiane, an estimated 3000 prostitutes and petty criminals were rounded up from the capital banished to some of these islands for several years. Today the Nam Ngum hydroelectric plant generates most of the electricity used in the Vientiane area and sells power to Thailand.

About 250 sq km of forest were flooded when the river was dammed. For yearssince, logging rigs have used hydraulic underwater saws to cut the submerged but still very valuable teak trees.

Fishing is also an important local industry, and one that attracted thousands of people to the area during the ’80s and ’90s. Too many, perhaps. In recent years fishers have reported a drastic fall in their catch and many have been forced to find other work…


Our boatman took us on a half day boat ride on the lake. Unlike Mekong river, the water here is calm, clear and peaceful…