A little downstream from Vientiane the expedition came to the Thai town of Nong Khay, a trading centre of some size that had gained a measure of importance following the destruction of the older city in the 1820s. In terms of the trade and commerce that had once existed in this area, however, there was nothing remarkable about the town, except that it was of sufficient size to have its own separate quarter for the Chinese merchants and craftsmen who lived there.
Immediately after having bypassed this place of exploitation, the river, the direction of which, from Ponpissay, had risen much towards the west, returned to the south, widening. One of those sacred pyramids, so numerous in Laos, which indicate either a tomb or a sacred place, appeared to us from afar, isolated on the water, in the middle of the vast semicircle carved by the current along the shore. right of the river; for ten years already she had been detached from the bank on which she had once been built, and she remained half tilted over the Tonde like a ship in distress ready to sink. As long as it remains upright, it will be an excellent point of reference for measuring the encroachments of the river, encroachments which, in the middle of soft ground, are reproduced at every bend on the outer side and cause landings or landings on the opposite bank. sandbanks which sometimes reach colossal dimensions. For the moment, the leaning Tat signaled us Nong Kay, where we took to land at eleven o’clock in the morning.
Nong Kay, founded after the destruction of Vien Chan by the Siamese, has partly inherited its importance: it is the largest population center to be found on the banks of the Mekong from Pnom Penh to Luang Prabang; the houses, built parallel to the shore, form a street more than a league long, cut by several alleys, or rather by paths perpendicular to the river. The city appears to contain from 5 to 6,000 inhabitants. The products of its immediate neighborhood are very varied: colon, silk, tobacco and indigo are cultivated beyond the needs of local consumption; a short distance away is pottery, lime, and woodlands providing excellent lumber.
Garnier, Vol. 1: 282