My day trip to the Upper Mekong Delta in Vietnam just evoke a kind of reverie that finally it is fulfilled, I am cruising the Mekong Delta, the mighty river called the River of Nine Dragons among the Vietnamese and mostly, the river I have only read in history textbooks. The Upper Mekong Delta has a vast history and aside from it, only the Amazon in Latin America has more diversity of life in a river in the world. In Asia, it is the Mekong River which has captured imaginations of travellers, backpackers, scientists and even locals.
On this specific trip, I was wondering why boats here are painted with eyes on their frontcastle and this eyes are piercing, though enough to really acquire your attention. Traversing the choppy waters in the Upper Mekong Delta, I asked our guide what it meant. He replied by elaborating that crocodiles are afraid when they see huge eyes gawking at them. Surely, I do not believe his elementary explanations though amusing. I inquired more and the most plausible reply I have gotten was that “historically, boats have to be painted with those eyes to see their way around the Mekong River”.
That answer was plausible to me considering that the Mekong River snaked through six countries, from the Himalayans of the North to Vietnam in the south towards the Pacific. It passes through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. With that, the Mekong Delta River spans 4,023 Km. Historically, the first European who navigated the Mekong Delta river was Portuguese explorer Antonio de Faria which dates back to 1540.
The Mekong Delta River is known in Vietnam as Song Cuu Long which translates into English as the “River of Nine Dragons”.