Sounds like the reporting is from the Golden Triangle on the Thai side, also Laos down by Khone falls, and the delta in Vietnam, with a phone call to Milton Osborne thrown in to add authenticity. Hope the link works.
By Thomas Fuller NYT December 09
My only quible.
>>The cargo +(boats)+ passes through increasingly populated areas, erstwhile sleepy cities in Laos that are now teeming with tourists and defying the economic downturn with swinging construction cranes
Don't know about which cities the Chinese cargo boats pass by, don't they go from Sop Ruak up to Jihong? Maybe Xiengkok during that market day I've never seen.
Good photos too, worth clicking on the link.
The warter level still depends on the seasons. I watch it rise and fall with the rain from my living room window. While certainly the dams are a concern, many environmentalists overstate their case - I guess they feel they have to or no one will listen.