On several occasions during our expedition along the Mekong River, we ask our guests to rise before the sun! Without exception, they are always glad when they do, because they get to experience something memorable. In this case, it is the floating wholesale markets outside the small city of Chau Doc. With the spectacular golden light bathing these Vietnamese vessels adorned with all manner of fruit and veg, it truly is a sight to behold.
And yet that is not all in store this morning, as we disembark our tenders and enter the already bustling land-based marketplace nearby. The sights, colours, smells and sounds of the market are quite the thing, an almost overwhelming sensory extravaganza. Before everyone gets the chance to browse at their leisure, we get the chance to tour the city on the back of a cyclo. While not necessarily the most comfortable form of transportation, they’re highly efficient, darting along the streets and capturing a slice of life in this melting pot of cultures.
On the way back to the ship we stop off at a floating fish farm, home to tens of thousands of tilapia. These fish are an important source of protein throughout the Mekong delta, and there are myriads of farms producing them.
Back on Jahan, we spend the rest of the morning and afternoon relaxing around the ship, taking in the sights and sounds along the river as we make our way towards and across the border with Cambodia. Along the way we hear from cultural specialist Patrick MacQuarrie on the changing landscapes of the Mekong River, we get a hands-on cooking demonstration and of course more opportunities to indulge in the excellent food on offer.