160915 Tra Su Bird Forest and into Cambodia

We woke this morning to another excellent Scenic Breakfast. Both Western style and Vietnamese style breakfasts are available. At 8:00am, we split into three groups to visit:

  1. Tra Su Bird Forest & take a walk through a Khmer village.
  2. Visit a Floating Fish Farm and Cham Village.
  3. A visit to Evergreen Island.

We chose the Bird Forest visit. Much of our travel time was in a fast speed boat through the canals to a pickup point for the coach to the Bird Forest. We had a 45 minute ride in a fast speedboat, then a 40 minute coach ride to reach the Bird Forest. All along the canals were houses perched on stilts with people trying to live off the fish they caught in the mirky waters that are laden with silt. They are dependant on the silt as it contains much nutrients for the soil in their farms.

Currently, China has 4 large dams on the Mekong River and are building a further 5. The people in the Mekong River delta are very concerned as China has threatened to release large amounts of water which will flood the farms in the delta and quite likely drown many of the subsistence farmers that dwell and live on the delta. Then when China holds back the large volumes of water, a ‘drought’ will mean the sea water will come into the delta and kill all the crops and damage the soil. There is a banker on board the ship who is involved with the World Bank and he was saying that in 4 years, there will be another war in this area due to the Chinese not having any empathy for those downstream living on the benefits of the delta. He was saying to me to tell all our clients to come see the Mekong Delta before it is destroyed in a few years; and he was serious. So call 03 5967 1858 and make your plans if you want to see this great area before then.

Our coach ride took us past acres and acres of rice fields. They look so lush at the moment and well cared for. Most of the work is done without large machinery. We saw farmers using walking watering cans with long spray hoses back and forth along the rows to care for pests.

At the end of the coach ride, we entered the Bird Forest and made our way onto a small uncovered sampan. Slowly moving through the mangrove forests, Lyn managed to take some pictures of birds that were camouflaged in the dull light. The outboard motor was quite loud and scared most of the birds away before we got to them. Its hard to realise that we were in one of the world’s most populous countries full of subsistence farmers. It has been said that Vietnam doesn’t have a lot of wildlife – it has been used as food.

The park covers 1500 hectares of mainly melaleuca forest. This is the home of over 70 species of birds, 140 types of flora, 11 types of animals, 23 kinds of fish and 25 species of reptiles. We also take a row boat for 20 minutes or so through dense mangroves. Only 2 birds are seen.

Our return coach ride was a good time to take a nap, so I did. We stopped to walk around a village in a Khmer region. The kids loved it when I showed them the video of them. I guess they don’t get to see much TV and so I was a pied piper in a way. The speedboat sector was a little slower as we had to ‘swim up current’ against the swiftly flowing canals to where our Scenic Spirit was anchored.

Mid afternoon, we became educated in the way of the Cambodians. The recent past history has been devastating on the growth of the country and it is now rated as one of the poorest in the world. More about that in tomorrow’s post.

Prior to dinner, we are treated to a Vietnamese cultural show by a group from a close town. The Traditional Vietnamese Lion Dance is a hit with the guests and the drummers are pretty good too.

Good food is the love of everyone and Scenic do well again for the “Farewell to Vietnam Gala Dinner”. 5 courses later, we leave with rounded bellies and expanding belt-lines. Why do they do this to us?

Tomorrow we will be in Phnom Penh.