The river begins, like the Yangtze, the Bramaputra and the Salween, 16,400 feet on the Tibetan plateau and tumbles 2,795 miles to the Mekong Delta and the South China Sea.
Near its beginnings, in Yunnan Province, China the Mekong is known as the Lancangjiang or Turbulent River. It flows through the rainforests of Xishuangbanna, skirts Myanmar and plays politics as the border between Thailand and Laos where it becomes the lifeline of a country.
In 1994, the Thai-Lao Friendship bridge was completed, the first ever span across the entire river, signalling a new era of cooperation between two Mekong neighbors.
Heading south, the Mekong enters Cambodia and instead of flooding during periods of high water, it backs up into a channel called Tonle Sap, fills a lake and irrigates one of the world's most fertile rice bowls. This natural wonder helped feed the great Khymer Empire called Angkor.
The Mekong makes a magic change at the border with Vietnam. It divides into dozens of tributaries and becomes the Cuu Long or Nine Dragons. This vast, fertile rice growing region that is the Mekong Delta is where the great river mixes with the tropical waters of the South China Sea.
In Thai, Mekong means Mother of Waters.