Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mekong? No, you Simon

I've liked the idea of following a mighty river from source to mouth ever since I travelled along the banks of the Nile in Egypt and met someone who'd followed it up from Tanzania (mostly by accident, to be fair - he was travelling around Africa and the river kept getting in the way). It's as good a pointless quest as any other.

So far I've mostly failed to encounter rivers of significance, the exception being the Mekong which handily carves out many of the borders in mainland South East Asia. I first saw it when crossing Thailand into Laos, where I followed it north as far as Luang Prabang, and later encountered it again in Cambodia. (At least, I saw a few big rivers in Phnom Penh and it's apparently one of those).

If I'd done my duty and braved China's tyrannical immigration laws to follow the Mekong from its source on the Tibetan Plateau all the way down to Vietnam, I'd be celebrating a futile victory in the Mekong Delta. As it is, I just had a couple of nice days of sightseeing by boat and bicycle.

Mekong Delta by boat

Cloudy sunrise over the Mekong. Just don't rise any higher or we'll see the state of it

One tourism website attempted the description 'milk coffee waters,' but there's really no sugar coating the slurry hue. Why did we ever leave Krabi?

As in other South East Asian countries,
however early you wake up, the world's beaten you to it

Need a pineapple but jaded by the convenience of the corner shop?
Visit Cai Rang Floating Market for all your impractical aquatic retail needs

After navigating the tricky financial currents, we took the scenic route back to Can Tho down the Rach Nho Canal

Maybe because I was tired, I spent an inadvisedly long time recalling the Children's ITV series Rosie and Jim during this peaceful voyage. What was all that about?

Chugging along on the old Ragdoll

And Fizzgog steers the boat

Mekong Delta by bicycle

This overpriced, falsely advertised countryside tour was at least a chance to show off my ace BMX skills to the locals. I couldn't wait

Unfortunately, it turned out Jackie never learned to ride a bike, so instead of pulling wheelies I got to carry her around on the back and learn how to balance anew. It was kind of nice

Along the way, we were invited to poke our disruptive noses into people's lives and consume their wares

We stopped off at a cafe to sample some fresh fruit. The name made me happy (#28)

I'm twenty-seven years old and I didn't know pineapples grow like that. If you'd asked me yesterday, I would have guessed they hung down from trees like coconuts. I feel like one of those city kids who thinks milk's factory produced - why didn't Rosie and Jim ever cover pineapples???

It turns out fish come in bags too

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