10 March 2012

Floating on the mystic Mekong River

Posted in Siem Reap, northern Cambodia. This post covers some of our time on the Mekong River when we did not have strong wi-fi access.

The cruise ship, ms Amalotus, has become our floating home which we are sharing quite congenially with about 100 other passengers. Some are from Germany, the US, and Australia, but most are from Canada. This is different as up to now we have been travelling on our own with a private guide. And we have encountered very few Canadians on this journey.

We have not cruised much, so this is new, especially since the Amalotus is a small "boutique-style" cruise boat. I have decided that it is really quite lovely to have a moving hotel room with air-conditioning.

Enough context; this post is supposed to be about the Mekong River, a mighty river that has determined the rhythm of life in Indochina for generations. We have learned that the seasons bring hIgh and low water periods which determine the growing of crops, spawning time for fish, even the periods when the river bottom can be "mined" for building sand. Below is a dredging barge.

We were fascinated by the various boats people use to navigate the river.

Above is a long-tail boat. Think outboard motor on a stick! And they can be very noisy, depending on the age and tuning of the motor.

The Mekong is over 4800 km long and flows through seven countries. Its headwaters are in China, just north of Tibet. We've learned that it is the second most biodiverse river in the world, after the Amazon River in South America. The people rely on the river for all manner of fish and freshwater shellfish. If I was a fish person, I would have taken more pictures in the local markets (we have seen some strange creatures), but here are some crayfish for sale.

Each day we've gone ashore by small tenders to visit the villages and learn more about the local way of life.

This morning we went to an idyllic farming community on Evergreen Island. The scene on this canal-like channel away from the main river was so peaceful.

I am looking across the pale green water at the rural countryside as I write this. We have been aboard for three days and we have sailed about 150 km. The riverside is less busy now than it was closer to Saigon and the large towns we have passed along the way. Houses are built on stilts to accommodate the rising water levels of monsoon season from May to October. This one has a definite lean to it.

This evening we will cross into Cambodia to continue our trip upriver to Phnom Penh and the Tonle Sap River.


1 comment:

  1. LOVE your blog - exactly how we remember the Mekong river adventure as well - you did a beautiful job on capturing the experience:)