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PHOTO ESSAY: The Angry River: A Journey Along Burma’s Pristine Salween

In April 2015, photographer Patrick Brown returned to the lower part of the Salween or Thanlwin River. One of Asia’s great rivers, the Salween presents a placid face as it passes through Hpa-an, the capital of Kayin (Karen) State, close to the end of its 1,750-mile journey from the Tibetan Plateau to the Andaman Sea at Mon State.

From the photographic project by Patrick Brown called Damned Nations the Angry River. Text by John Buchanan Five decades of restrictions imposed by the Burmese junta over the Salween basin are beginning to come to an end. The Salween is now open for business. Positive change is being promised. The easing of travel restrictions, cessation of conflict in many areas, and economic opportunities from investment inflows all point to the nascent reform movement taking place in the country. However, challenges remain: Agro-industry is swallowing up land, infrastructural megaprojects are threatening to destroy the environment, and a competent response by narco agencies to the thriving opium trade is yet to be formulated.

By Patrick Brown

Hpa-an, Pa Dauk Street, Kayin, Myanmar, September 2, 2015

The Irrawaddy

In April 2015, photographer Patrick Brown returned to the lower part of the Salween or Thanlwin River.

One of Asia’s great rivers, the Salween presents a placid face as it passes through Hpa-an, the capital of Kayin (Karen) State, close to the end of its 1,750-mile journey from the Tibetan Plateau to the Andaman Sea at Mon State.

In China, where the river’s epic travels begin, it is called the Nu River, or Angry River. As it races through narrow gorges etched from mountains as high as 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), the Nu is often turbulent and terrifying.

“Our personal confrontations with the river defy description. Phrases like ‘gigantic waves’ and ‘bottomless holes’ do not do justice to the Angry River and its demonic forces,” wrote a member of an  American white-water rafting team which explored 80 miles of the river’s length from Gongshan town to below Fugong town in an expedition in Yunnan Province in 1996.

 

More at The Irrawaddy

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