In the Naga's Wake: The First Man to Navigate the Mekong, from Tibet to the South China Sea

Overview

Upon first seeing its unforgiving rapids, 20-year-old traveler Mick O’Shea began dreaming of a solo expedition down the Mekong River, from its source in Tibet to the South China Sea. This exhilarating travel novel captures O’Shea’s extremely dangerous kayak adventure into the unknown through remote gorges, terrifying rapids, and deadly whirlpools, past floating headless bodies, looming dams and terrifying Chinese soldiers. Always seeking adventure and adrenaline, this explorer was immediately attracted to ...

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Overview

Upon first seeing its unforgiving rapids, 20-year-old traveler Mick O’Shea began dreaming of a solo expedition down the Mekong River, from its source in Tibet to the South China Sea. This exhilarating travel novel captures O’Shea’s extremely dangerous kayak adventure into the unknown through remote gorges, terrifying rapids, and deadly whirlpools, past floating headless bodies, looming dams and terrifying Chinese soldiers. Always seeking adventure and adrenaline, this explorer was immediately attracted to the Mekong’s power as well as to its spiritual and cultural significance and exotic beauty. This extraordinary true story of one man’s wild ride down one of the fastest and most dangerous rivers in the world is a compelling read for armchair travelers, extreme-sports fans, environmentalists, and Southeast Asia enthusiasts.   

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Mick O'Shea's book is a remarkable story of a great adventure that is, at the same time, a heartfelt plea for wider awareness of the challenges facing the Mekong River's delicate ecology."  —Milton Osborne, author, The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future

School Library Journal

Adult/High School
O'Shea fell in love with the Mekong River at the age of 20 and ever since has dreamed of becoming the first person to explore its entire length. This book describes his dream and its fulfillment, as it records his ambitious, dangerous, and exhilarating ride down the river known as Kong, "Mother of Water." This wet and wild tale of adventure is sure to satisfy armchair explorers. But the book is much more than a simple narrative of man against killer rapids, monster whirlpools, freezing temperatures, and unexploded land mines. All of that is central to the author's story, but so is an environmental and political disaster about to descend upon the millions of people who inhabit the valleys of the Mekong. The Chinese are in the process of constructing eight immense dams in Yunnan Province, two of which have been completed, with another four currently under construction. This "Mekong Cascade of Dams" is one of the largest engineering feats ever undertaken. O'Shea points out that Yunnan is prone to more devastating earthquakes than almost any other region of the world. The Chinese are building the dams to provide electricity for urban and suburban areas in China. They have made no mention of compensation or any benefit to the peoples of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, or Vietnam. The author admirably accomplishes his two main goals: to relate the harrowing story of his kayak trip and to direct attention to the man-made threats to this stunningly beautiful and wild corner of the world.
—Robert SaundersonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
An intrepid Aussie becomes the first to paddle the entire length of the Mekong River. In 2004, seeking adventure in a rapidly shrinking world, O'Shea grabbed his kayak and undertook a journey that lasted more than 140 days, pushing off from the Mekong's source in the mountains of Tibet and descending 4,909 kilometers to the tropical South China Sea. In addition to problems with his support team and various financial difficulties, the youthful-yet-grizzled veteran of previous Asian expeditions found himself faced with competition from two other groups also undertaking the descent. After procuring the services of several old friends, however, he managed to get properly underway, paddling through a bevy of challenging rapids and risking bodily harm at every turn. Kayaking enthusiasts will love O'Shea's descriptions of each whirlpool and eddy, but these hair-raising episodes become repetitive and lose their punch as the narrative progresses. (There are only so many ways to describe a raging class V rapid.) O'Shea's adventure, however, is only half the tale; his narrative is also a history of the Mekong river region. The author expounds on the area's religious conflicts and weighs in with social commentary, taking shots at the Chinese government for its Mekong Cascade of Dams project (eight dams flooding 650 kilometers of the river's length by 2017), which he views as ecologically unsound and-given China's dubious safety record-potentially catastrophic. He explains such cultural icons as the naga, a mythical dragon believed to protect boaters and fishermen. He also engages in a lengthy diatribe against the United States' actions in Vietnam and extols the virtues of the simple life led by thosewho subsist on the river's bounty. A black/white worldview at times oversimplifies problems, but O'Shea's flair for the dramatic and sensitivity to the cultures he encounters make this a journey worth taking.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781741148695
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Mick O’Shea is the first person to successfully navigate the Mekong River. He is an expert adventurer who enjoys white-water rafting, trekking, kayaking, and camping. He is the cofounder and CEO of Wildside Eco Tours, which specializes in travel and eco-tourism in Laos.

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