Riding The Ing

DavidFL

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The Ing River
The Ing is a 260 kms river that starts in Phayao province, north of Phayao in Mae Chai district, that flows south into the lake at Phayao.
Then, from the Phayao lake it generally flows northward & into the Mekong near Chiang Khong.

The Ing Watershed is one of the most abundant watersheds in Thailand; & consists of rich natural resources and ecosystem diversity, including forests, mountains, rivers, stream tributaries, and watershed areas.

From

The Boon Rueang Wetlands
The Ing Watershed is one of the most abundant watersheds in Thailand. It consists of rich natural resources and ecosystem diversity, including forests, mountains, rivers, stream tributaries, and watershed areas. The 260-kilometer basin river flows from Phayao Province to Chiang Rai Province in Northern part of Thailand before linking to Mekong River. It’s water’s path is interesting in that it basically flows south into the Phayao lake, & then flows out to swing back North into the Mekong at Pak Ing, downstream from Chiang Khong.

The Ing river communities have shared a close relationship with the watershed since it has nurtured them for centuries. They have developed their local wisdom on natural resource management combined with their way of life. This includes organizing traditional irrigation, community forestry, watershed and fishery zone managements.

A proposed SEZ in Chiang Rai near Boon Rueang was to use 3,000 – 4,000 rai for an industrial zone, but it united the villages & greatly strengthened their community & resolve to save their environment.

Boon Rueang has a 300 years old village forest that is an important source of food for the local communities. In the wet season the waters of the Ing inundate the river basin, spurring migratory fish to enter the Ing from the larger Mekong to spawn. The flooded forested river banks providing excellent spawning grounds for a wide variety of fish. After the wet, when the river recedes, many young and old fish go back downstream in the dry season.

In 2020 The Boon Rueang community has just won a UNDP Equator Prize.

The Equator Prize is awarded roughly every two years to recognise and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities. As local community and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize shines a spotlight on their efforts by honouring them on an international stage.

The UNDP awards the US$10,000 prize biennially to recognize outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. As sustainable community initiatives take root, they lay the foundation for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and overcoming the climate crisis.

Boon Rueang Wetland Forest Conservation Group of Thailand wins global environmental award: The Equator Prize

On Google maps take a look around here
Google Maps

A documentary in Thai indicating all the Ing River wetlands

The size and wealth of the Boon Rueang Wetlands in impressive


Some Logging History & Transportation On The Ing
An interesting bit of history on the Ing, Kok & Fang rivers.
These 3 rivers basically flow South to North & into the Mekong. The only other river in the North to do this is Mae Lao?

In the early Siam logging days, teak was cut & dropped into the rivers of the Chao Phraya watershed to end up in Bangkok.
But not that of the Ing & the Kok, because these rivers flowed into the Mekong watershed & getting the logs over the ridgeline into the other watershed was too difficult.
So what happened & who got the contracts & did the logging - not the Brits & the Borneo Company / Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation / The Siam Forest Company, but the French with French East Asiatic Company who floated the logs down the Ing or the Kok & into the Mekong to eventually end up in Saigon, Vietnam!

The Ing logging concession was given to the French in 1909.
Previously though in 1901 the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation had the logging concession, but found it too difficult to get the logs into the Chao Phraya watershed by the Yom river.
The solution was for a new logging concession: The Ing forests would be subdivided into three sections north, central, and south forests. The south section, the timbers of which could be worked into the Yom River, was granted to the Siam Forest Company. However, the north and central sections, from where the only feasible export route was via the Mekong watershed, were given to the French East Asiatic Company. And so the timber from Phayao eventually ended up at Saigon in the Mekong!

The Kok Logging Concession was granted in 1912, after the return on the French East Asiatic Company was not commensurate to their investment in the Ing concession. The agreement was that they would harvest the Ing for 15 years and then the Kok for 15 years.

The Fang River that flowed North was an exception though, as the Siamese government of the day was concerned about the French gaining excessive influence and stipulated that the timber of the Fang forests would not be transported along the Mekong River. The Borneo Company had the Fang logging lease and to move the logs out they constructed a tramway on which loaded trucks were drawn by elephants from the final delivery point in the forest to the top of the watershed, and a chute or timber-slide to transport the logs down the precipitous slopes from the highest point on the watershed at the end of the tramway. From 1912 to 1930 teak was transported into Mae Phan and Mae Poi, tributaries of the Ping River in the Chao Phraya watershed. Somewhere on the headwaters of the Fang river there may still be an old tramway cutting?

Transporting Timber from the Ing down the Khong to Saigon
Moving timber out along the meandering Ing was not without difficulty.
The teak was felled in the upper watershed of the Ing River, around Ban Tam Nai, Ban Ronghai and Ban Phin near Phayao town.
Floating the teak out usually started in June / July at the start of the wet when the water level in the Ing was rising.
The logs were floated downstream to Thoeng, where some were processed at a sawmill beside the river, & /or made into rafts.
From Thoeng downstream the river was more difficult and meandering.
Thung Ang 5 kms before the confluence of the Ing & the Mekong, at Thung Ang just east of R1020 & west of R1155 Google Maps there was a huge horseshoe bend in the river that caused log jams so the French cut a canal through to alleviate the problem. This big bend was also used as a storage yard for logs. (I wonder about all the other bends in the Ing, through the Boon Rueng wetlands?)
Ban Ten 3 kms further downstream at Ban Ten, where there now is a bridge across the Ing, the Royal Forest Department established a duty station to collect taxes on the logs.
Google Maps

Down the Khong In March - April the logs were then floated down the Mekong river. Khamu labourers were used for the journey down the Khong, because of their price & Mekong experience.
The main obstacle on the Khong going downstream was the Khone Phapheng rapids in the south of Laos.
Depending on the season, the log rafts were moored at Don Dek and Don Khone & dismantled to be floated through small channels (wet season), or carried across Don Khone by the train in the dry season.

Overall it took two years for logs to be floated downstream from Chiang Khong to Saigon!

The French East Asiatic Company processed about 4,000 logs annually at two sawmills, one near Saigon and the other near Phnom Penh.
 
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DavidFL

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With a break in the weather & the need for some fresh air & nature it was time to go in search of the Boon Rueang Wetlands once more & see if I could it actually locate them properly, instead of just riding through as I had done once before.

I took a meandering route as befits the Ing.

Sri Dornchai, Tai Lue village is 15 Kms south of Chiang Khong & on the north bank of the Ing.

Turn right at a “main intersection” & there’s a road that follows the Ing for a way.
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There are some funky little houses riverside.
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Looking at the houses, I have to wonder what fabulous stories some of the house holders must have to tell about their lives on the Ing.

Confirmation the Ing is a slow meandering river
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A couple of kms downstream
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The river lane pops back out on the "Main road" R4019 & heads east & south away from the river.
It crosses the Rong Pueng river, where water is backing up from the Ing, a healthy sign, or just a weir? 55
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The road winds its way through some delightful country side, but I'm not heading in the right direction.
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A turn off into a smaller lane gets me back heading in the right - Ing direction.
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The water joy of wet season - paddies & irrigation channels flowing
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Back across the Ing & head downstream. I'm still kms away from where I should be
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R1020 comes up again & I need to mosey on south for another 7 kms.
An enticing lane comes up & well, why not give that one a go. We are in Boon Rueang village. Let's suck it & see where we end up.

A nice big tree at the start is a promising indication.
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The road soon passes through some nice forest
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Traipsing through the grassy verge reminds me that it would be a good idea to have some decent boots on for the mud & snot, next time.
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If this was the wetlands proper, it was a bit underwhelming I thought; & back home I was able to confirm this was my location at the time.

However, go round a corner another 700 metres on & I thought I hit the jackpot, just before crossing the Ing again.
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A delightful forest park, with nature trail, and some magnificent trees.
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There's a bit to explore in here with some decent footwear.
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A shrine to suggest this it! Where they have ceremonies to bless the wetlands & forest (?)
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The Google Maps location for a starting point.

Whilst here a quick at look my 2 phone rain apps suggested that it was a good time to head home asap.
Incoming was quite a storm & I had no rain gear or jacket, as I was just cruising for the arvo. GTR jersey & sneekers, not exactly quite what you need in a rain storm.

But alas I never quite made it
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More of the Boon Rueang wetlands & nature beckons = I shall return. We have a starting point now.

Useful Route numbers
R4019 at Sri Dornchai
R4011 at Sri Lanna
R5031 at Boon Rueang
R4014 should also be interesting.
There are multiple little forest wetlands in the bends of the Ing between R1174 & R1020, check em out sometime.
Take your time for a meander.
 
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ianyonok

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David,
Thanks for that, very interesting. I need to get over there for a looksee around that forest park.
Actually, I often go through Boon Rueang, but then take the 4014 across to Bahn Kaen Nua, then onto the 1098 across to Doi Luang. That is a fave route coming home from Nan, Chiang Kham, Thoeng etc. That route goes round what looks like an oxbow lake north of the Ing, or is it just a man made pond..?
Yes, there are lots of little roads there between 1020 & 1174 that could do with exploring... in fact all the way down to Thoeng.
 

DavidFL

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David,
Thanks for that, very interesting. I need to get over there for a looksee around that forest park.
Actually, I often go through Boon Rueang, but then take the 4014 across to Bahn Kaen Nua, then onto the 1098 across to Doi Luang. That is a fave route coming home from Nan, Chiang Kham, Thoeng etc. That route goes round what looks like an oxbow lake north of the Ing, or is it just a man made pond..?
Yes, there are lots of little roads there between 1020 & 1174 that could do with exploring... in fact all the way down to Thoeng.

Yeah some of the ponds look man made, probably decades ago in an effort to protect the area and develop it more a sustainable environment.
There are some wonderful images of the wetlands flooded, out there.

If you watch that VDO they identify all the "Protected areas" in the Ox Bow bends.
It really is a fantistic effort they have put in to protect their environment & food source.

From the google earth image, I guess I was at the northern "top end" of the Boon Rueang wetlands.
I reckon it would be really cool to get a boat & go through the wetlands there.
They locals may have a "boat pier" perhaps? Let's see if we can get some more info & check it out more fully.
 

DavidFL

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Some more links



The Boon Rueang community of nearly 300 families manages the forest through traditional ways such as tree ordination ceremonies, and also has clear rules.
The rules include not cutting trees beyond a certain size, and a ban on hunting and the commercial sale of bamboo and firewood. Villagers can fish, and collect crickets, mushrooms and firewood.
With nearly 300 species of flora and fauna and dozens of edible and medicinal plants, the forest is vital to the food security of the villagers. It also has the potential to store 26 tonnes of carbon per 0.16 hectare, the research showed.



Some Images: CR Phitchayetsapong Khurupratchamak
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An important ecosystem
Boon Rueang wetland forest is
the largest in a network of 26 wetland forests that swathe the meandering lower Ing River, en route to its confluence with the Mekong River at the Thai-Lao border. It is credited with saving the village from the devastating floods that swept the region in 2010. Although neighboring villages were engulfed, Boon Rueang was comparatively unscathed owing to the capacity of the wetland to buffer the floodwaters.

Data compiled by the BRWFCG and its partners revealed that the riparian ecosystem supports at least 276 species, including 87 types of fish and several dozen edible plants. Recent camera trapping and DNA studies confirmed the presence of leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) and near-threatened Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra). There are anecdotal reports of other species on the IUCN Red List, such as critically endangered Sunda pangolins (Manis javanica), vulnerable fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus), and near-threatened king cobras (Ophiophagus hannah).






 
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