Mekong Delta

Can Tho Travel Blog

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Saturday morning the four of us hired a boat to take us to the floating markets.  I had read it was possible to take a car to near the market and hop in a boat from there, saving hours of time, rather than puttering along the whole way and back.  The guesthouse owner didn't like this idea one bit and strongly discouraged it; nor had the other three been on the Mekong or seen floating life and markets, and so they wanted to go the overpriced boat route.  So overpriced boat it was.

When I say hours, I mean HOURS.  Six hours.  And that was the "quick" route.  Knowing full well that your ass is going to go numb and you're going to be bored out of your wits doesn't help either from happening, unfortunately.  To add insult to injury, the second market -- the farthest and supposedly biggest and best one -- was pretty much over by the time we got there.
  OVER.  Again, this was something I brought up to the dude the night prior, when he suggested we depart at 7am.  Um, doesn't everything close long before 9am?  And you want us to go the long route?  Won't we miss everything?  Needless to say we ripped him a new one when we finally got back, but he was angry and defensive and snarling something about us wanting to be cheap and it was like whatever dude, you lied and deceived and overcharged and you're a jerk.

So that was the Mekong Delta.  If I were to have some perspective, sure, it was nice.  It's unlike life at home, that's for sure.  But it's more or less the same as what goes on on the Mekong in Cambodia.  Please forgive my jaded traveler eyes, but most of the markets throughout Asia are the same, and this is even truer regionally.

It also confirmed that no, I will not be eating fish while in Vietnam.  The amount of crap in that river is astounding.  Mind boggling.  The mindset and regard toward litter and pollution is nonexistent.  I have seen, more times than I could possibly count, locals finish a takeout meal and toss the styrofoam carton over their shoulder.  Wherever they happen to be at that moment: out a window of a bus/car/boat, onto the street, into a river, an open field, anywhere and everywhere.  This is true of drink cartons, wrappers, papers, used or unwanted anything.  I've seen it in every single country I've been in, with the exceptions of Japan and Singapore, and most often in China, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  Zero regard for the environment.
  It's just not a thought process, or a concept within their culture and society.  As you can imagine, there is shit EVERYWHERE.  I lost count of the number of times that loud, puttering, awful little boat abruptly stopped, forcing the driver to bend down and untangle garbage from his propeller.  Always garbage, never riverweed or plants.  Plastic bags, wrappers, packing tape, a whole manner of crap.  Disgusting.  And truly horrifying.

If there is anything Asia is solidifying in my life it is vegetarianism and environmental awareness and active participation.  Some days I think I may go vegan.  Every day I swear I'm going to be an environmentalist for the rest of my life.  It's that bad here.
fransglobal says:
Just to follow up, I lived for four years in Belgium, one of the most industrialised and densely populated countries in the world, and it has a forest cover of 24 percent.

Also in his book 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond, he maintains that the success of Japan can be attributed at least in part to its organised management of its forestry resources.
Posted on: Feb 02, 2010
fransglobal says:
Have to disagree. These places are now becoming relatively developed economically and are not at all at a mere survival level.

Also, while the forests may have been destroyed to a large extent in Ireland and UK, a lot if not most countries in continental Europe have a forest cover of about thirty percent.

Even in poor countries, just a little bit of planning and organisation and thought for the long term would help to alleviate many of the problems that Meg highlights.
Posted on: Feb 02, 2010
dothoin says:
Environmentalism is for societies who can afford to be environmental these places priority's are survival and living from day to day. Easy for us to say 'save the trees' when we destroyed all of ours in our rush to industrialise.
Posted on: Feb 01, 2010
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