Phnom Penh Cambodia Mekong Delta Ho Chi Minh Vietnam Travel Full Documentary
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The Mekong River is one of Asia’s great waterways -a powerful, mesmerising and life-giving force that careers from the icy mountains of Tibet to the humid rice fields of southern Vietnam. Along its journey the river blesses Tibet, China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with its bounty of food and transportation opportunities and is the lifeblood of thousands of people who live along its banks and survive from its fish and the irrigation opportunities it presents to otherwise remote rural areas.
I have explored and journeyed along the river at various points of its path through south east Asia. On my first trip to the region as a young backpacker in the late 1990s I took a slow boat from Huay Xai (the border town in the north of Thailand and Laos) to Luang Prabang, and from this time onward I have been fascinated by exploring the Mekong and its tributaries. I have been fortunate to travel down and stay alongside the river in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. However, the so-called ‘Mekong Delta’ region of Vietnam had eluded me on my travels until recently, and what a treat I had been missing!
The Mekong Delta refers to a large area of Vietnam from its border with Cambodia to the coastal shores of the south of the country where the Mekong finally ends its enormous journey. The area is often referred to locally as the ‘Rice Bowl’, such is the fertility and irrigation possibilities that water’s flow provides.
Most visitors to Vietnam will remark about the frenetic nature with which the Vietnamese people seem to go about pretty much everything they do. Crossing overland into Vietnam from Laos or Cambodia, you will notice a marked difference in the levels of human activity. I recall travelling into northern Vietnam from Laos once; on the Laos side of the border were remote villages scattered every twenty kilometres or so, with dry paddy fields and the occasional glimpse of tribal ethnic minority villagers sleeping in the mid-day heat. Yet, just across the border it is a completely different story, with ingenious irrigation and farming systems in place and a hive of activity with people planting, chopping, building, transporting. I recall that on the Vietnamese side of the border they get an extra rice harvest every year. The reasons for these differences are probably worthy of a separate article altogether so we won’t go into them here. Nevertheless, the Mekong Delta mirrors these earlier observations — never before I had I seen such intense and incredible use of the river’s unquestionable gifts.
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