If Can Tho is the gateway to the Mekong, then Chau Doc is its pulsating heart. With an estimated population of one hundred and twenty thousand it is a giddy blend of Cham, Vietnamese, Khmer and Chinese communities. Situated on the banks of the Bassac river it is a frontier town bordering Cambodia and a popular river crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia.
“Sightseeing is one of the more doubtful aspects of travel … It has all the boredom and ritual of a pilgrimage and none of the spiritual benefits.” Paul Theroux
If you, like me, travel regularly for images, stories and that something different then endurance is your goal. And sightseeing is part and parcel of the exercise, well for freelance photographers it is. Both travel and sightseeing (or tourism if you wish) involve prodigious amounts of walking but equally significant use being made of man-made means of transport. And therein lies the need for an ability to endure lest you lose your mind and commit mass-murder or some equally heinous crime.
I’m not attracted to communism, after all what’s in it for me? Likewise I’m a little put off by what passes for capitalism today – conspicuous consumption, a high degree of cosying-up to the state for contracts and favorable terms and the inevitable corruption that arises. Remembering of course that corruption requires two parties to occur – the official and the beneficiary. So I’m interested to witness the “socialist capitalism” or “managed embracing of free market principles” here in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
What’s to be said about Ho Chi Minh City that’s not been said before? Described in romantic sentences filled with superlatives in any guide book you care to look at, the city is everything that’s said about it, and more. The Viet Cong toppled Saigon so that Ho Chi Ming City could rise from its ashes. And rise it certainly does.