Wednesday, November 2

Vietnam Highlights – the Mekong River

In October 2011 South East Asia suffered heavy monsoon rains and a couple of typhoons, Nalgae and Nesat. They brought even more wet weather to the north of Vietnam and caused considerable flooding in the south.
Thailand is still suffering the after-effects from the monsoon floods.
Along the Mekong in southern Vietnam, river levels were extra high and water covered vast areas, inundating rice paddies and destroying about 10% of Vietnam’s harvest.
On our journey on the RV Mekong Pandaw up the Mekong River from My Tho to Chau Doc and the border with Cambodia we saw flooded fields, semi submerged trees and stilt houses with water almost to floor level ( the week before we arrived the water level was even higher and houses had been flooded).
The river looked like liquid mud but maybe that colour is normal – the Mekong flows through many countries (Tibet, China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) and carries silt and debris from the Tibetan plateau to the delta in Vietnam.
Flooding is a regular occurrence although this year it was far worse than usual, but life revolves around boats and floating or stilt houses so life was going on as usual when we passed through.
Purist s may deride tourism but it does help the local economy. Villages we visited are regular stops and are reimbursed by Pandaw, and when local handicrafts were available we and our fellow passengers bought souvenirs (except in the case of homebrew rotgut whisky with snakes or scorpions in the bottles).
Yes, we bargained but I’m sure the local tradesmen had the better of us; they looked quite happy and so were we as we departed with our purchases and that’s what bargaining is all about.
Good fun.