Mekong River is the world’s 10th longest and the Asia’s 7th longest river. Born in Tibet (on the heights of Himalaya), the river flows its way through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Mekong splits in Cambodia into two main tributaries: the Bassac (Hau Giang) and the First River (Tien Giang), then continues in Vietnam into a complex network of 9 major arms before throwing itself into the Southeast Asia Sea. Its original name comes from Thai language “Mae Num Khong”, or literally “Mother Water”.
The Mekong region is home to around 60 million inhabitants with more than 100 different ethnic groups, making it the world’s most culturally-diverse region. The inhabitants are mainly farmers or fishermen, and while they are rich in resources, they are very poor in purchasing power. A third of these populations live with few-dollar income a day and have almost no access to services of the government.
Life on the Mekong River revolves much around the water. In mountainous areas north of Laos, the Mekong offers an interesting alternative for the transport. Besides, due to its wealth (it is the world’s 2nd richest river in species, after the Amazon), the river allows millions of people to earn their living out of it directly or indirectly. Many live right on the banks of its tributaries and canals. Their homes are built from various kinds of materials and usually have stilts and fish-raising cages underneath.
It is definitely well worth a boat trip to explore the river life on the Mekong. It is important that you do it in wet season to see its abundance and richness.