who ... moi?

a social butterfly: scared of much, but not of many. never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. not a fan of acronyms, snakes and angelina jolie. a HUGE fan of Fathead.

this blog is black for ENERGY-SAVING reasons.

thanks for your understanding.
if it's too dark, put your glasses on old one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

mekong meanders

so i know that technically speaking the mekong delta is still in vietnam - but i like to separate the two (mainly because it justifies the jewelry i bought in "both" places as reminders of "both" separate places).

anyway, we left saigon on a bus, which took us to a boat, which took us to another boat which took us up the mekong river, starting in the delta at the south of vietnam, travelling through fishing villages and floating markets for two days. 

there was an overnight stop-over in the border town of chau doc, which was so boring and drab and souless that i will neither admit it is part of my beloved vietnam, nor bore you with any more details.

you can't really escape the mekong river.  it's enormous and it is the "rice bowl" of south east asia. its banks touch vietnam, cambodia, thailand, laos and china - so if you're in south east asia, you will at some stage be near it, see it, get on it, get in it or go over it to get into another country.

the nations of south east asia have a long history of battles and alliances - but it's thought that the next major conflict will be fought over the mekong.  china (as only china can) don't really care about what happens down stream - and are furiously damming up their section of the enormous waterbody.  they are also blasting rapids, which is where the mekong catfish is thought to breed.  as a result, the numbers of this unique river monster (300kg's of man-eating terror, but also a local delicacy) have drastically dropped in recent years, and now the countries in the south are breeding them in farms and introducing them back into the system.

the effects of china's dams are extensive and far-reaching.  they are impacting thousands of communities further down-stream - and although no one out here is too concerned with environmental issues and animal rights, there are obviously huge implications from an ecological point of view too.

as far as rivers go, it's impressive.  enormous, deep, slow and powerful.  it's like an elephant.  you just automatically respect it.

the highlights of this tour up the mekong were:
seeing how the local villagers raise fish in floating farms,
feeding the 100 000 fish as they thrashed about violently trying to eat,
watching them make coconut-candy, rice paper, rice crackers and silk weaves.

number one thing about the mekong river though, was meeting an english couple (brodie and dan).  we met them as we crosssed the vietnam/cambodia border and played a game of shithead (cardgame ... get your mind out of the gutter!)

they seemed fun and friendly at the time, and were a welcome distraction from the fact that we'd not been on land for what felt like days.  little did we know then, that we were about to make two very special friends - with whom we would spend every waking hour for the rest of our cambodia and laos journeys.

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