TIO SE Asia: Dispatch 2, Good-bye Vietnam, Hello Cambodia

Ed. Note: Photos to follow. We are internet constrained, but want to publish this post in a timely fashion.

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Living the life of luxury on the Mekong River can entail an early get-up: specifically, the tai chi session on the pool deck begins at 0630. About 20 stalwarts showed on our first morning. I don’t believe we looked like the.senior citizens I used to observe in the parks in Hong Kong in my flying years. I know I didn’t, but I did enjoy it, and as far as I know, no incriminating photos exist. We’ll see how many show for subsequent sessions.

After our breakfast buffet, we embarked on 2 sampans to observe life on one of the many canals off the main channel of the Mekong. The main modes of transportation, aside from the ubiquitous bicycles and motorbikes are various watercraft ranging from large motor barges down to small low-freeboard craft propelled by oars, or noisy diesels turning a propeller at the end of a long shaft that can be angle-adjusted to account for shallow water. Many medium sized vessels serve as live/work spaces, working, cooking, sleeping all taking place in these tight quarters.

In Phu An hamlet we witnessed a family operation centered on rice and coconut. We watched rice being “popped” (think popcorn), sampled some tasty rice-based concoctions, saw how rice paper is made. Wrapping you can eat!

Once back on the boat, we were off anchor, bound for our next temporary anchorage near Sadec. Back into the sampans to tour a small village on Binh Thanh Island. An older man and woman spoke to us about village life through our guide/interpreter, Tai. They spoke of the changes during and after the war, life since economic liberalization, and especially about their young people leaving for opportunity in the big cities, about the continuation of a way of life that seems a bit anachronistic in the modern world. It was a fascinating view of a lifestyle long gone in our part of the world. After leaving the meeting hall/temple we strolled through village, literally through their open houses, watched the manufacture of rattan mats.

Back aboard, up anchor, and motoring through a storm up the river toward Cambodia.

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