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Published: April 27th 2009
15th April 2009
Today’s journey into Vietnam started with an hour bus journey from Phnom Penh to Kaam Samnor on the banks of the Mekong River where we took a 3hr leisurely boat trip to the Vietnam border crossings at Vinh Xuong and then onto the town of Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta. The trip down the Cambodian part of the river was very boring. I sat on the edge of the boat, poised with a camera to record any wildlife we might encounter, NOTHING! I did, however, lose my hat to the muddy waters, I’d purchased it in Borneo and I was really attached to it, oh well.
As we crossed into Vietnam almost instantly I started to see small numbers of birds, mostly Whiskered Tern flying like white, little arrows up and down the river, occasionally spearing the water at dazzling speed to catch small fish. Just seeing any wildlife again helped lift my spirit, we were glad to be out of Cambodia!
We passed along route many fishing boats usually manned by women wearing the typical conical reed hats. All the houses were clinging to the river banks, perched on shaky looking stilts that
looked as if a good gust of wind would send them all down into the water. Families were all bathing in the tea coloured waters and river system was full of children’s laughter, life was busy all around.
We noticed that the edge of the water was covered in a brown mass in between the houses and the water lilies. We had no idea at first what this could be until we noticed the huge rice factories further on down the river. The brown mess was spilt rice from the loading bays of the storehouses. Tons and tons of the stuff were floating in the margins all along the river and the thought crossed my mind that for such a poor and hungry culture this seems crazy and wasteful.
The more we see South East Asia the more we realise that these people are not so different to us. They are happily contributing to their own demise and they seem quite content in the fact. Just like our detached western cultures, they seem to have no regard for the quality of the conditions of the environment around them, they just carry on stripping the local resources to the
bone. Everything is killed and harvested, their water is unnecessarily polluted and they think that they are doing no wrong, just like us. I realise that the western cultures have been doing the same all around the World on a far greater scale, but my point is these people are actually living alongside nature but equally have forgotten its importance to their future health and happiness. What has happened to us all, are we that blind and stupid not to see that our limited resources are all but gone and yet what we have left we waste or even worse destroy. Somewhere in our past evolution mankind has forgotten that we are part of this natural cycle. In the rest of nature when an organism dies it becomes food for something else, nature recycles and mankind only consumes and wastes. At the moment over 50,000 species of flora and fauna go extinct every year mostly at the hand of man, and yet most of the population are blissfully unaware. We continue to destroy the biodiversity through economic greed, we add new artificial chemistry from our industries to the water systems, illness and new diseases are becoming epidemic across the World
because our bodies do not know how to defend itself against all the NEW toxins we breathe and ingest through our food, air and water. The real crime is we all look away and think that our governments and corporations will look after everything and fix things. History has proven that this is not the case especially when the same government and corporations are the ones making the profits from this chaos. This madness is going to catch up with us very soon and I fear we will be added to the same exclusive club as the Dodo & the dinosaurs. Long after we've all gone, nature will repair itself; and our species, which is like a virus with shoes, will leave very little trace.
The sad thing is that as the only species ever to be able to see and imagine its own future we are all letting this mass slow suicide take place. We are all the captains of this cosmic ship we call planet Earth and yet we are making holes in its hull on purpose and just sitting back and watching the water engulf us all. Personally I think this seems to be a genetic
flaw in our species, we seem intent on our own destruction, maybe we evolved too fast, and after all, we are one of the youngest species on the planet. The amazing thing is how much we have achieved in such a short period of time, but maybe it’s all an illusion. The more we think we have mastered nature the more destruction we wreak using it. Our intelligence is at its peak historically but our consciousness is in a state of comatose. I hope we wake up from the nightmare soon.
We spent a quiet night in Chau Doc walking the streets, checking out a pagoda temple and eating vegetables and noodles. On the whole, the people of Vietnam are friendlier than their Cambodian neighbours and it was very nice to be greeted by smiling children again.
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