The Mekong is a vast, vibrant life-support system, from its beginnings in the snowmelt of the Tibetan Plateau down through China, flowing into Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Two thousand years of human history flows along the river. Nowadays, it has become a cultural hub for around 60 million people who depend on it for transportation as well as for living, working and relaxing.
Aqua Mekong Founder Francesco Galli Zugaro talks to ASIA DMC about his experience of cruising through the Mekong River and what it offers for those embarking on this incredible journey.
Q. In your words, how would you describe the Mekong Delta?
The Mekong Delta is a complex mélange of cultures, sights, sounds and colors, rich in history, flora and fauna. From the acacia flooded forests, multi-colored floating villages, the “silk islands” near Phnom Penh and the many Buddhist temples dotting the landscape, the Mekong offers an insight into a culture and history like no other.
Q. How important is maintaining environmentally sustainable activities within the Mekong region?
It is extremely important at Aqua Expeditions for all of our vessels to maintain the strictest sustainable practices --from water purification and recycling to low-emissions engines and the sourcing of local food, produce and wares from local markets. We want to leave behind as little of our presence as possible and be as carbon neutral as we can.
Q. What types of interactions are organized by Aqua Expeditions and occur between tourists and the local people of Mekong Delta during the trip?
Aboard the Aqua Mekong, our guests will experience a level of interaction with the locals like no other. We visit places along the Mekong Delta that are off–the-beaten track, providing an opportunity for our guests to meet Buddhist monks and attend a Buddhist blessing ceremony, visit a local's home to taste local fruits while hearing traditional folk songs followed by a unique ‘unicorn dance’ performed by villagers, and “slide” into an ice factory and learn from locals what it’s like to live in a town where schools, churches, pagodas, and even the karaoke bar and police station all float.
The Mekong Aqua
Q. What can people do to ensure the continued beauty and natural liveliness inherent within the Delta?
I hope that the Mekong Delta won’t get too overcrowded by tour operators and that people respect the cultures and people that live there. Contributing to local communities by supporting the schools, artisans and clean water programs are just some of the ways people can help to ensure the region’s survival.
Celebrating a decade of success in 2017, Aqua Expeditions is globally recognized as a leader in small ship river cruising. In 2014, Aqua Expeditions launched the 20-suite Aqua Mekong, now sailing on the historic Mekong River between Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and the bustling metropolis of Saigon, Vietnam.
This year, Aqua Expeditions adds limited edition hosted departures featuring me as Founder and CEO of Aqua Expeditions, Jean-Michel Cousteau, world-renowned conservationist, David Thompson and Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Aqua Expeditions’ award-winning chefs, Francisco Marin, professional Leica instructor and photographer, and Alex Salihin, a wellness instructor and Lululemon ambassador.
If you want to know more about Aqua Expeditions on the Mekong, please contact us here for more information.