Monday, November 18: Another river day

Monday was our second and final full day on the Jahan. Unlike the disaster last week that was the Ginger, we’re not anxious to get off. In fact, we’ve gotten even more friendly with Elizabeth and Andy, our new Swiss friends. We’ve had our meals with them, talked with them over drinks and exchanged impressions and photos from our outings.

This morning was the third of the three excursions via launch from the Jahan as we make our way up the Mekong. We’re still in Vietnam, but only a few miles from the Cambodian border (1). Tri (2), our guide, announced this morning that the guides and Captain – who are Vietnamese – would be leaving the ship at the border, and Cambodian guides and a Cambodian Captain would be boarding.

Everybody got a cyclo, November 2019

First on today’s agenda was a visit the town of Tan Chau. We motored to shore in the launch, and then we each boarded a cyclo for a ride around town. These are small carts pulled by a bicycle. We each got our own, but the guide insisted that regular Vietnamese would ride four or even six at a time (3). With only one passenger, some of the drivers were racing with each other, passing on the straightaways and laughing.

The cyclos dropped us at the local market, where we tipped our drivers more than the suggested $1/person.

Only the healthy stuff, November 2019

Sally and I walked around the market, which by this point in our trip was no longer remarkable. There was a section of fresh meat and fish, all laying out without refrigeration in the heat (4). Not what I would want to eat.

Fish food, November 2019

The final stop before we returned to the launch and the Jahan was a fish farm floating in the river near the banks. These are all over the place; we saw them two days ago way down in the Mekong Delta nearer Saigon, and along the river. It’s basically a floating structure, perhaps 50′ along each side, that uses nets draped from the outer perimeter to contain tilapia (5) that are raised from fingerlings to about 3 lbs. Two men can operate the farm, which consists mostly in this case of mixing feed and feeding the 100,000+ fish swimming beneath us.

Washing the deck, November 2019

It’s obviously hard work, as these two guys were chiseled.

On the way back to Jahan, we said goodby to Tri in the traditional way: with a tip.

Cambodian river bank, November 2019

Around 2:00pm, we left Vietnam and entered Cambodia, our last stop on this journey. Nothing immediately changed on the river, but gradually the river banks became less industrialized. Cambodia is much smaller, less populous and poorer than Vietnam.


(1) Sheen’s Willard was searching for Brando’s Kurtz in Cambodia.

(2) Pronounced tree.

(3) For what it’s worth, I saw no one but tourists in a cyclo while we were here.

(4) I chose to show you pictures of pretty fruit rather than rotting meat. You’re welcome.

(5) And some other similar fish whose name I never really understood.

(6) Cambodia’s per capita GDP is $1,600, Vietnam’s is $2,740 and it has 6x as many people.

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