When in Vientiane, don’t forget to visit Namxuang reservoir

For Visit Laos-China Year 2019, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images promoting the two countries’ collaboration in tourism and hoping to inspire more people, especially from China, to experience the nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, the jewel of the Mekong.

In Vientiane, when we were still children about 30 years ago, we knew about Namxuang Reservoir, located about 40 km from the city, because it was a famous tourist attraction even at that time.
In those days, Vientiane was relatively small and not fully developed. Even though the reservoir was in a suburb of Vientiane, it seemed it was located far away.

A view of the Namxuang reservoir in Vientiane.

At that time, it was an area rich in fish, birds and forests. The water was very clean and we didn’t see any garbage when we went to the reservoir to swim.
In the countryside near Vientiane, there were only a few places that people visited during the weekends in those days, such as Vat Xiengkhuan, Hinkhanna waterfall, and Namhoum and Namxuang reservoirs.
However, today, it is very rare to hear of people travelling to Namxuang. Perhaps they have forgotten about it because mostly, I hear people in Vientiane saying they prefer to travel to other provinces, such as Vangvieng, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang and Champassak.
In addition to this, many people travel to our neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand and China.
In my case, the last time I went to the reservoir was in February 2010. That year, Vientiane officials were concerned the water level in Namxuang reservoir might be reduced because some people had encroached on the watershed and nearby forests for a living.
But they were pleased when the water level did not drop. In some years, however, the reservoir is reduced by half if the rainfall isn’t adequate.
Today, people understand better about forest protection. They are suggesting trees in the reservoir area shouldn’t be cut, especially in the watershed area. Trees ensure the rain water is captured and they also slow down the flow of contaminated water to villagers and surrounding areas.
People in the five villages of Tham, Sivilay, Phonxay, Phonsy and Phonthong use water from this reservoir for over 1,000 hectares used to grow rice and other crops.
If people destroy trees, they will have insufficient water for their irrigation channels. Trees improve the quality of urban life and make cities better places to live, work, and play.
Namxuang is located in Naxaithong district, and forestry officials have surveyed areas where tree-planting events took place on previous Arbour Days to remove any dead trees and replace them with new saplings.
I went to Namxuang again after nearly a decade last Friday with a team from Vientiane Times. After we turned left at km 40 on South Road 13, which leads to Namxuang, we did not see local people or foreign tourists.
After we arrived at the reservoir, were could hardly see anyone in the area. There were a few restaurants on the bank.
A local villager told us visitors sometimes come to the reservoir but their numbers are small. Most of them come on Saturdays and Sundays, he said.
The water level at the reservoir was low. I went down to the river and looked around. The colour of the water and the forests had changed from what I had seen 10 years or ago.
It was not as beautiful as I remembered it in the past and this may be due to the changes caused by global warming and climate change.

By Khonsavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update July 2, 2019)

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