Rourke's Asia Trip 2012 travel blog

Well Folks - no messing around at the Cambodian/Vietnam Border. 2 1/2 hours to clear RV Mekong Pandaw. Downstream to Chau Doc a border town of 100,000 and bam - back to the amazing beat of modern Asia. Day and night between the two countries and it was immediately obvious of the huge Chinese influence in Vietnam.

My Brother Neil had forwarded to us a very negative article about the "Panga" fish now being sold as filets in our supermarkets. The gist of the article was that it is a 'cheap' Asian fish cultivated on the Mekong River in big fish farms and although cheap it was basically poisoned by pesticides, agricultural runoff and a host of other contaminants.

Bottom-line, it is basically very very bad for your health and shame on the grocery stores for selling it.

Didn't see the contaminants but the story-line is factual. The one we visited had a large holding tank which sat beneath the owner's home and which contained about 100,000 Panga.

For those less knowledgeable about fishy matters than others,the Panga is a Mekong River catfish absent the whiskers. Man are they ugly dudes and I can't bear to think about how much catfish excrement there must be in those waters.

But here's the deal. Cost to build both the home above and the pen below is $50,000. Takes 10 months to bring the fish to market. Value of 100,000 fish is approx$130,000.

Profit margin about 30%. Helluva ROI. Very wealthy families run these operations! Don't think Sylvia will be buying Panga any time soon.

Also got to finally see a real 'live' market at a place called Sa Dec. It was a day food market and, so had all the veggies and fruits PLUS the live chickens, fish, frogs, eels, crustaceans and every other live thing you could think of. Seriously Chinese and incredible to see. Sylvia got some great pictures of the action - we have no idea how a huge part of the world's population lives.

Saw a very informative documentary on the history of Vietnam showing how foreign countries have ruled the country. Chinese 1000 years, French 100 years, Japanese 4 years and then 1954 and the battle of Dien Bien Phu which started the Vietnam War. And so it has only been since around the 1980's that the country has been united. It is now one of the Asian Tigers.

Like China it is proudly Communist with a major accent on Capitalism.

The amount of small business is staggering. Everybody is working like crazy and everyone is in search of more and more money. Not much foreign investment in that particular area except for Michael Jackson's Father who bought a big tract of land and is building an amusement and entertainment centre in the middle of nowhere??

The Mekong is one of the mighty rivers of the world and we can attest to how busy it is. We were very fortunate to get up close and observe what is going on. The work ethic still boggles the mind.

The cruise came to an end with a 1 1/2 hour bus drive to Saigon (next blog entry). With only 58 passengers on board a crew of 12 or so, we had a chance to meet everyone and talk to each a little. One French woman was bitten by a centipede so that was not too nice. Sylvia was quite pleased however that the two cockroaches I escorted from our room the first night did not re-appear.

There was one group of 28 Canadians organized through a Waterloo Ont company called Jerry Van Dyke. His son and wife were leading the Tour and they were great. The Group were doing another Pandaw cruise in Borneo after the one we were on. It was a very delightful group of very different people and most had done several river cruises and were good fun and informative to be with. Antarctica and the the Upper Amazon now beckon.

All in all a happy and very laid back cruise on the Mekong River with no stress. Mission accomplished!

Saigon aka as Ho Chi Minh City is on a whole different planet.

Stay tuned.

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