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The Mighty Mekong

21
July
2012
 

It starts in the melting snows of Qinghai province in China and ends in the South China Sea. During its 2,700 mile journey it touches Tibet, flows through China and helps define the borders of and between Myanmar and Laos and Thailand. It flows through Cambodia past its capital, Phnom Penh before entering Vietnam where it creates a basis for a way of life both on the river itself and the delta which flows into the ocean.

Americans of a particular generation will always identify the Mekong Delta as a theatre of war but newer generations of both Americans and particularly Vietnamese see it as a giver of life. If you are spending time in Saigon you can avail yourself of the opportunity to take a day trip to the Delta and experience the atmosphere and bustle of the Cai Be floating market. Another option is to sail overnight on a Bassac boat which will visit some of the tributaries of the river as rice barges pass by. Many travelers use the Mekong as a scenic connection between the bustle of Saigon and the tranquility of Phnom Penh upriver in Cambodia. From there it is but a brief flight to Siem Reap and the wonders of Angkor Wat.

There are many ways to make the journey. One way is to drive, paralleling the river and overnighting in Can Tho and Chau Doc. This allows you to see the countryside but you miss out on the river experience. On the other extreme you can board a luxury river vessel much as you would on the Nile and take a leisurely one week cruise with the boat as your base as you stop off at various points along the way. It is both refined and relaxing but does not give you exposure to the countryside. While we offer both options to our clients, there is a third option that combines the best of both. This option combines both the river and the countryside and adds in the benefit of a once in a lifetime experience.

You start your experience by boarding a Bassac Boat in the town of Cai Be and sail up river enjoying lunch along the way. You cruise the Cho canal and stop to visit the orchards and rice fields before setting sail again. After a spectacular sunset you have dinner on board while cruising before anchoring in Tra On. In the morning you get the chance to visit the floating market before continuing on to Can Tho where you disembark and are driven to your luxury hotel overlooking the river.

 The next day will be spent alternating between a small boat and riding the bicycles that are carried on board. During your morning you will visit a small factory that produces incense and have the chance to bike along the dykes of rice paddies seeing water buffaloes, duck keepers and fishermen before returning to your hotel.

 The next morning you board your own personal speedboat and head up the Mekong with the wind in your hair. As you travel up the river and see the life along its banks you can’t help channeling Martin Sheen as he is carried up the Mekong to meet his destiny with Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Your destiny is a stay at a luxury hotel in Chau Doc where you overnight before departing for the last leg of your journey to Phnom Penh stopping at Cambodian customs on the way; that, my friend, is the way to experience the Mekong.