Monday, 19 July 2010

Mekong Delta

Friday 16 July: The Mekong river rises in the Tibet Himalayas and finally branches into a delta, creeping slowly towards the sea, in southern Vietnam. It's raining all day long.
Saturday 17: Today I wake up in Can Tho
to clear morning skies and a lively river frontage with a large metal statue of uncle Ho overlooking ornamental gardens. The wide oozing branch of the Mekong is bustling with boats of all shapes and sizes from high-oared sampans to heavily-laden sand barges sitting low in the murky red water. There are kerbside fish-sellers, their wares lurking in glass-tanks, basins or plastic baskets: shellfish, eel, squid, green crab, red and black crab, lobster, prawns, numerous small crustaceans, fat-legged frogs - some skinned alive but still breathing-fast and trying to jump, tortoises and a huge variety of fish from pointed snake-heads to catfish and from tiny sprats less than an inch long to large tuna.
Sunday 18: It's a 4-hour bus ride to Chau Doc's bus station where I pick up on a cyclo, a little two-wheeled open-topped cart towed by a bicycle (59th mode of transport). Small and mellow, Chau Doc is the point of departure for boats to Cambodia. I choose the slow 'tour' boat option - it's a scenic 10-hour cruise along the river Bassac, a branch of the Mekong, across the border to Phnom Penh.

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