Interacting with people you first meet is either very easy or very difficult, depending on group chemistry. But guiding is a special case: you meet people in a totally controlled context, where basically everything is set up. The things that trigger curiosity in customers are predictable. Yep, we will have FAQs for every area. Time to read customers’ mind.
What are FAQs for Mekong Delta?
Plantation & Agriculture
Customers can ask about ANY plant they see on the road and even though an honest “I don’t know” may gain points for authenticity, after several times it just becomes awkward, shows unprofessionalism and lack of preparation.
Below are plants of Mekong Delta we will encounter along the road. A purely linguistics matter. No need to collect those words ourselves. Let’s just do some searches
Aside from general plantation vocabulary, there are some plants that are typical for Mekong area which should be given more attention.
Looking from customers’ perspective, images that pop up in their mind about the area are: vast rice paddy fields, fruit gardens, floating villages. Our role is to go deeper and analize WHY the plantation landscape is like that, some typical plants in the area, HOW locals utilize the plantations (for different industries), HOW that even affect their personality and culture. In short, we analize the interdependent relation between nature/ plantation and people’s culture and daily lives in the area.
accounts for 30% of total Vietnam agriculture land.
27% GDP of total Vietnam
50% area of Viet rice plantation.
30% of total Viet agriculture revenue.
54% of Viet fishery.
Main rice exporting area of Vietnam.
Rices are planted mostly in An Giang, Long An, Dong Thap, Tien Giang.
Duck growing also develops in provinces of Dong Thap, Hau Giang, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Ca Mau.
Typical fuits: coconuts, rice, breast milk, watermelon, jack fruits, mangoes, durians, cacoa (used for chocolates)
HOW NATURE AFFECTS PEOPLE’S DAILY LIVES & CULTURE IN MEKONG DELTA
90% Viet, 6% Khmer, 2% Hoa, 2% Cham (Khmer) people. They live and work together in the same area, integrate and assimilate different characteristics to form a common Mekong Delta culture.
This forms the diversity of the area.
People here are mostly friendly, generous and brave. Why? When the first settlers come to Mekong area, the area is just vast wild jungle land. To conquer harsh nature conditions and live in harmony with nature, Mekong people need to adapt themselves, be resilient, generous and open.
The abundance of natural resources make Southern people in general and Mekong people in particular: easy going but short term thinking 7 unstrategic mindset (because there is no urgent need to save, things seem to be abundant all the time). People have a sense about season but do not really treasure time in general. To an extent, this is a drawback. The rate of education in this area ranks as one of the worst of Vietnam.
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)
A river of conflict. 6 countries share the river with different needs & priorities for its people.
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.