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Vietnamese River Life

In the Mekong River Delta, the rivers are roads. A lot of the world used to be this way, but no more.

I love the river life.
Moving on water is so much more civilized than any other form of transport. Think about the images these words conjure.

Paddling, Rowing, Drifting, Fishing, Swimming, Waves, Lapping.
Romantic, right?

Mekong River Market
The Mekong River Market

Compare that to Driving, Parking, Tar, Traffic, Stop Signs, etc., and ask yourself - Wouldn't it be great to take a boat to work?

So, I consider myself lucky to have seen a true river culture.  It doesn't look like this lifestyle will survive much longer.

Man with Baby
Born on the river

People on the rivers are very open and friendly.  This is true in Thailand, as well as Vietnam.  Most of the people we pass are ready with their smiles and waves.

Maybe it's a result of being tied into the natural ebbs and flows of life.

A boat on a Jungle River
Jungle Scene

Above is the Mekong equivalent of a residential street.  The houses in this area were clean, spacious, and upscale compared to other areas we saw.

In Vietnam, you see people swim in the river, bathe in the river, shit in the river, and wash clothes, dishes, and hair in the river.

Our guide said he used to drink out of the river, and many still do.   When he starting earning money, he could afford tap water from Bangkok (by our standards, a failed chemistry experiment - by their standards, nectar of the gods).  Now, he can't go back to drinking the river water.

Floating Houses
Floating Houses

If romance is the art of overlooking the unpleasant, no matter how obvious, and focusing (or exaggerating) on the pleasant, no matter how ridiculous, then I'm an unashamed romantic for river life.

I look blindly past the dead dogs floating by. 
I close my nostrils to the stench that drifts on the breeze. 
I blissfully ignore the obvious health risks.

I prefer to focus on the children splashing, boats rocking, and waves breaking.

North of Saigon, we saw these people who know what real river living is about. 
They transport items to Saigon via the river, and live right there.

No worries about flooding, I guess!