Mekong River near Chau Doc

Mar 08, 2018 - Jahan

As we cruised along the Mekong River near Chau Doc, a vibrant sunrise was a perfect way to start the day. We boarded local boats and headed directly to a floating market, where dozens of boats populated the Mekong. There we watched the morning come alive and learned how locals buy and sell produce from one boat to the next. Bananas, dragon fruit, chili peppers, and a host of other fruits and vegetables dangled from boats, large and small, all available for purchase. We continued along the waterway and stopped at a floating fish farm to see how people feed and raise fish until they are large enough to sell at market.

Our local boats then dropped us ashore, and we had an opportunity to try another unique form of transportation – this time, trishaws (a bicycle pulling a two-wheeled cart). After an orientation of the city, we walked through a bustling and colorful market teeming with fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and meats. The sights, sounds and smells loaded the senses, and the activities and people were a photographer’s dream to capture.

Back aboard Jahan, guests joined our naturalist, Martin Cohen, for an in-depth discussion about the Mekong River and the threats posed by infrastructure and upstream dam construction. And after lunch, our cultural specialist, David Brotherson, shared his insight about how the Cambodian and Vietnamese cultures, while they are neighbors, are extremely distinct. Between the presentations, we had a lovely opportunity to relax on deck, have a cool drink, and take in the beautiful scenery as we cruised to our next destination.

Later in the afternoon, we visited My An Hung village and explored a family’s farm and residence. We meandered through a chili field and learned how farmers harvest their crops and manage the planting season and floods throughout the year. The family then performed for us with local instruments and offered a wide variety of fresh fruits to sample that are grown throughout the local farms. Those guests who were brave enough also had a chance to traverse a “monkey bridge” – a wooden single plank bridge usually supported by bamboo – that spanned a small canal on the farm.

Following this amazing cultural experience, we had time to relax on deck and take in another glorious sunset as we continued our journey down the Mekong River.

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About the Author

Eric Kruszewski

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

An editorial photographer and videographer based in Washington, D.C., Eric Kruszewski's multimedia work focuses on reportage and travel. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative, and he is a regular contributor to National Geographic's Image Collection.

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