Less than 100km away from Sai Gon, Mekong Delta is an interesting area with various things to discover. Whether informally taking friends around in their first time visit or being a professional tour leader for tour companies in the area, there are some common topics you can cover. The purpose is to blend general introduction with fascinating details along the road.
Know your audience’s expectations & knowledge
Putting experienced travelers who come to Mekong Delta many times before aside, most travelers just have a vague idea about Vietnam and Mekong in general. They tend to have a romantic visualization: abundant in vegetation, typical tropical land, heaps of fruit, interesting local guilds.
You can enrich your KYC (Know Your Customer) database by asking those questions:
- Is this the first time you come to SEA/ Vietnam/ Mekong Delta?
- How do you feel about the area (applied for return guests)?
- Is there anything you find strange or irritating on your trip?
- What other places have you been in Vietnam?
- How long is your trip in total?
These questions can vary, aiming at knowing what customers already know, where they have been, their general impression as well as their concerns about the journey. It also helps you to set their expectations in an acceptable spectrum: not too low to still be excited & look forward, but not too high to be disappointed later.
I- GENERAL INTRODUCTION
A good briefing should put the destination in perspective. These information are general, covering: geography, history, population and some prominent facts. These facts and figures will help customers know why they should visit the area and not somewhere else.
Some facts gotten from credited sites: Lonely planet, Wikipedia, Vietnamese history sites, guidebooks. Your customers may be very well-read and informed. Especially, some documentaries about Mekong area is a great source of knowledge.
Again, a general rule should be repeated: If the customers want to show what them know, go ahead, let them shine. Don’t try to force yourself and pretend to be a know-it-all.
Below are some facts gathered from Vietnamese and English Wikipedia.
Terminology (origin of Mekong name)
Different countries name this river differently.
In China: – Lan Cang Jiang – wavy river
In Laos & Thai: Menam Kong (by Laos & Thais people) as “mother river” – origin of the current international name.
In Cambodia: Either Mekongk (by Laos ethnic group here) or Tonle Thom (big river, Khmer language). In rainy season, the water flows back to Tonle Sap.
When Mekong flows to Viet area, it splits into 2 rivers called Tien Giang (former river) & Hau Giang (later river) & gather in Mekong Delta, after that it splits again into 9 smaller rivers. Therefore in Viet language it is called “Cuu Long” or “9 dragons”.
Myths (interesting stories)
Myths can be a great source of information, excellent for story telling.
(in research period he he)
General facts/ figures/ numbers
Only use numbers/ figures to illustrate a point. If not, it’s boring and not useful.
- 12th worldly in length
- Length: from 1200km to 1400km.
- Half of the river flows in China territory. In Chinese territory it flows through very deep cliffs. When it flows out of China the water level is only 500m above sea level.
- Flows changes in different seasons. (Disadvantage for waterway transportation but an advantage for rice planting)
- Starting from Yunnan (China)
- Crossing Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam.
- Local name: Cuu Long (9 dragons)
- Size: 39,000 square kilometres (the combined size of Texas and Arkansas- used for guests from US)
- 36 bridges crossing the river built by different countries in the area.
History & culture timeline (if possible, turn it into a timeline infographic)
- 1st century: Malaysian & Indian culture
- 5th century: Khmer Kingdom
- Due to difficulties in waterway transportation, different cultures along the river can not integrate.
- 16th century: The influence/ discovery of the West: 1950 – The first Portugese explorer. (for religion spreading & trading)
- 19th century: French influence ( after colonization of Saigon in 1861 & imposing Cambodia in 1863). In this period it becomes part of Indochina.
- 1893: Indochina was set up. But during this period, expeditions by French made them realize that Mekong is too rough for waterway system.
- After independence from France, the delta area officially becomes part of Vietnam.
To the West of HCMC.
Comprising of Phu Quoc.
Physical landscape: lat flood plains in the south, a few hills in the north and west.
(caued by tectonic transformation 50 million years ago)
In the past (Holocene area) water flowing to both South China Sea & Gulf of Thailand. Now only to South China Sea.
Forest coverage: 7,7 %
the world’s largest inland fishery
25 percent of the global freshwater catch and provides livelihoods for at least 60 million people.
second only to the Amazon River in terms of fish biodiversity
st 1,100 freshwater species
Many rare animals: Irrawaddy dolphin, giant freshwater stingray ( up to 1,300 pounds), the Mekong giant catfish.
Population: 17,33 million people (2011)
Majority: ethnic Viet.
Khmer area (due to history, formerly part of Khmer area)
Hoa (Chinese Vietnamese population) in Tra Vinh & Soc Trang.
Most children go to HCMC and other big cities for work, so the demographic rate is quite low.
Contemporary concerns, projects & Climate changes
A good presentation should not miss the contemporary sociology-politics big picture which is happenning.
A river of conflict. 6 countries share the river with different needs & priorities for its people.
- Population growth
- Sewage discharge into water.
- Pollution from agriculture and industrial sources.
- The Mekong is a case study in hydro-politics and Asian water security.
DAM CONSTRUCTION ANALYSIS
- Current situation: 15 dams in China and 15 dams in Laos, Thailand & Cambodia.
- Affect the flow of fertile soil and the waterflow downstream, affecting the water level of Tonle Sap, agriculture and fishing industry.
- Affect to Vietnamese community in Mekong Delta in particular: electric dams will turn 55% of water downstream into lakes, which changes the eco nature of the river, decrease of swamps, changing the immigration path and habitat of water animals.
- What is Vietnam doing to cope with this situation: an estimated amount of 130 billion VND (nearly 6 million USD) is considered for research to present Mekong mutua organization. The plan was devised in December 2015.