THE RIVER OF NINE DRAGONS
The Mekong Delta | Vietnam
The expanse of the Mekong river is breathtaking. The water flow is lazy and warm. The chocolatey color tells you that it has traveled long and far. We visited during the rainy season when the river is at full capacity and the region is bursting with life. Most of the rice and tropical fruits that feed SE Asia and the world come from this region - the river gives, and the people of the river take.
Our trip from Ho Chi Minh City to the heart of the delta was long and exciting. There was so much to see. Everything was new and foreign. When we decided to travel to Vietnam, we wanted to understand the culture from a local perspective. We wanted the real thing, and we go it. One of my most vivid memories of the trip is feeling a sudden sense of panic when I first saw the hut our host family had made ready for us. I knew and expected our accommodations to be simple and clean. Just not so basic, raw. River water was visible through the hut floor boards, and the mosquito net over our bed had a giant hole. Living like a local was too new for me. Everything felt surreal. Our host family had an alligator for a pet, and I was going to sleep in a hut with walls made with paper-thin bamboo and no door lock.
I didn't sleep that night. My fears amplified every sound and movement. I heard the life of the river, and it was like nothing I had lived before. It was beautiful and scary at the same time. No doors or locks prevented a stranger or an alligator from entering our hut. Coming from a society where we live surrounded by walls and locks, this newfound trust in life was worthy of enlightenment. When the first light of sunrise slowly made its way through the openings in the ceiling, I quickly rose and took my camera out. I wanted the capture what I had lived that night but ended up only photographing a quiet hut by the river.
We decided for an early start and arrived just as the sun was making a grand entrance at the famous Cai Be floating market. We had river pho and Vietnamese coffee for breakfast. No words can describe the taste of that soup - it was the best soup we have ever had. It must have been the water!
Weeks before our Trip, I had a recurring dream of myself slowly drowning in the river. I died many times in my dreams but would always come back to a beautiful sunrise. Not understanding the meaning of this recurring event, I asked a monk who lived in a temple by the river to help me understand the message. He smiled, and through our guide and translator simply said: "the river is inviting you to live."
So I did.