Khone Phapheng, Laos – For generations, Kampei Samneang’s ancestors have walked on a homemade highwire that spans the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia.
In their search for enough fish to feed their children, they have been the only family that has ever dared to cross the slippery line over to a small island, just centimetres above the roaring waves.
Here, the fish are plentiful. “My father taught me how to do this; he was a very talented fisherman, and my grandfather showed me how to make the net. Now I am showing my children,” Kampei said, sitting at the edge of the waterfalls before getting on the highwire.
A homemade fishing net is all he can carry with him. Any more weight, Kampei explained, would likely cause him to fall into the vast rapids underneath. “It’s important that I am scared. I have crossed so many times, but if I lose my fear, I will fall and die,” said the 50-year-old man, clad in yellow rubber flip-flops.
Other fishermen don\’t dare to cross and stay closer to the riverbank instead. They admire him for his bravery, Kampei said. “There are many fishermen here, so I have to go to the islands in the middle of the waterfalls to catch enough.”