Today I spent 9 1/2 hours on the road with a guide and driver winding through small mountain roads to reach the Xiaowan Dam, the highest arch dam in the world.

It is supposed to be the most impressive of the four dams that span the Mekong River so far (There are plans for dozens more in China, Laos and Cambodia).

But when we finally arrived (I was all excited from anticipation) and I got my first glimpse of the dam I was a little disappointed. It looks cool, but not that impressive. It took me a while to realize the driver had brought me to the wrong dam, the Manwan dam. 3 hours southeast of my planned destination!

It took us another 3 hours to reach a town with a hotel. Tomorrow we’re going to give it another try. It will be another day with more than 12 hours on the road.

Published by Ronald de Hommel

Ronald de Hommel is a Dutch freelance photojournalist based in Paris, France. He specialises in global social subjects relating to environment, development aid and conflict. He is one of the initiators of Disputed Waters. He works for a wide variety of Dutch and international publications and NGO’s. His work is represented by ANP Photo (Netherlands), Babel-Photo (France, Lightmediation (France) and Nazca Pictures (Italy). Website:

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