photo and feature map: Where There Be Dragons

Join Matador contributing editor Tim Patterson on the inaugural Mekong River semester program offered by Where There Be Dragons.

I’m typing on the banks of the Mekong River near the sleepy town of Tha Khaek, a provincial capital in central Laos. It’s dry season now, and children are playing soccer on sandbars that extend into the river channel.

Tomorrow I’ll trek up a tributary of the Mekong into the rugged limestone mountains of central Khammuan Province, one of the most remote parts of Southeast Asia. A major dam has just been built here, flooding a vast region of upland forest and producing electricity that fuels economic growth and rapid modernization.

This fall, I’ll return to Laos with 12 students and 2 co-instructors to lead the inaugural Mekong Semester for the educational youth travel company Where There Be Dragons.

Want to come along?


photo Where There Be Dragons

Dragons programs are rugged learning adventures designed for open-minded students who are willing to sacrifice comfort for the sake of discovery. Semester programs last for three months and feature extended home-stays, trekking and in-depth studies of issues related to development, ecology, culture and politics.

The Mekong Semester will follow the river from the Himalayan glaciers of China’s Yunnan province into Laos, settling into an extended stay in the ancient royal capital of Luang Prabang before wrapping up in Cambodia.

The trip will be challenging, both in terms of travel and academic rigor. We want students who are curious about the world, ready to immerse themselves in foreign cultures and willing to take a hard look at the realities of development in remote parts of Asia.


photo Where There Be Dragons

If you’re a high-school senior looking for a gap-year option, or a college student who needs an adventure, please check out the full program description at Where There Be Dragons. Most of the spots for the fall semester are already full, but there are a few openings left for the right applicants.

You can also feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions – though I’ll be way out of WiFi range for the next few days!