Sunday, January 29, 2006

Swimming In The Mekong

The Mekong River is the economic heart of Vietnam. The river starts in the Himalayas and winds it way through all of south-east Asia before entering the South China Sea. Nine tributaries branch off the river and form the Mekong Delta. My Tho is the town on the river closest to Saigon.

Eco-tourism has become a huge component of the economy in the area. At least two enormous open-air restaurants cater to the tour bus industry. The multi-course meal here features as its center piece a locally farm raised fish that is grilled and served at the table “standing” upright.

Tour boats operate from the river front and take tourists to a variety of local native craft exhibits strung along the river. The river itself is a huge wide muddy super-highway with ferries, sand dredging barges, tour boats and fisherman all trying to run each other over. The boats come in all sizes and shapes. Most boats have some sort of stylized dragon on the bow to scare away the crocodiles that traditionally ply the river.

Much to our amazement, considering the ochre color of the water, small children swim and play right in the river. The level of biological contamination in this country with a still developing sanitary infrastructure would scare away most first world swimmers.

Still, children are children and there is nothing more refreshing than a dip into a dirty crocodile infested river to cool off on a hot day.

1 comment:

The Truth said...

Looks like a blast although i would rather be fishing in my Sevylor cheers !