Traffic jams on the Mekong delta

30 Nov 2009

We are definitely better off running the waterways than the highways these times.

Đồng Tháp province have decided to enforce strictly the weight limitations for trucks on their roads, for the rainy season it seems, and so most of the heavy truck traffic between Saigon and Long Xuyên is now forced through the bottleneck of Cần Thơ ferry.

Remember Cần Thơ ferry was supposed to accept trucks only after dusk, a schedule meant to ease the passenger traffic through within the day, and you have a great recipe for a delta-sized traffic jam.

The Cần Thơ ferry pier is now very often crammed with trucks awaiting the authorization to cross the Bassac river on the ferries, pushing the road transfer times to Saigon up from 4 hours to sometimes 6.

We are alleviating this with the help of the flexible Mystic sampans, often fetching passengers from the Vĩnh Long side of the Hậu Giang river on behalf of the Bassac, or bringing back passengers who have taken lunch in town to the other bank.

Rick Stein cooked on board the Bassac

03 Nov 2009

To the few who might wonder who the hell is this Rick Stein, I oppose the many who have certainly rather asked what the hell is the Bassac. Rick Stein is the chef of the BBC, a renowned specialist of the preparation of fish and the anchor of his own cuisine show, and this year on BBC, of Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. The Bassac, is a boat.

We were approached by scouts from the BBC in late 2007, and at the time I have to admit I did not understand what it all was about. We hosted Rick Stein himself and the very professional Denham TV team on a trip back from Cambodia at Tết 2008. Seven people, all very friendly and relaxed, and turning at once as soon as the camera rolled into the precise cogs and wheels of a well-oiled production machine. You forgot them and were attached to the simple charm of Rick Stein.

Over three nights, Ánh’s team and Bassac II‘s chef Út cooked and baked, visited floating fish farms and markets with Rick Stein who himself prepared phở on board in Cần Thơ. These sequences were complemented at Rick Stein’s home by his own touches to a very Vietnamese fish dish.

The BBC broadcast the series in July this year, and then we began receiving calls from friends and former colleagues in the UK who had seen us on TV. Our 15 minutes, really, at first among friends. Such is Rick Stein’s fame that despite the crisis that struck the whole of the western world and the UK especially this year, we saw an increase in interest in our services from the British market where we expected a downturn.

The shooting was not only the occasion to mingle with the rich and famous, but also a demonstration in film-making, one of utmost professionalism and effectiveness, interspersed with relaxed evenings. I shall just evoke one we had on the river at Buoy Zero at the frontier with Cambodia, the most quiet place there is in Vietnam, on the first night.

A little grand opening

09 Sep 2009

for a better newsletter than just a newsletter:

Welcome to TransMékong’s new blog.

In the present effort to bring out the clearest view of what we do, we have completely overhauled our website, which looks much better, see it at transmekong.com.

We are now starting these pages to replace an old and little-used newsletter –an antiquated means of one-way communication that deprives all of us of the feeling of dialogue.

While we are going to talk about ourselves for sure, and hopefully drive some search engine traffic our way, we shall also make the best of this blog to open the dialogue with all our stakeholders.

Company-wise, we shall post here about our services and the events we are preparing, about our commitments, be it to our passengers and clients or more widely.

We shall also write about the news of the crew, on-shore or on board, newcomers as well as family events. The team members will also be encouraged to write –and why not, an opportunity to work on their English.

And last, we shall write about wider concerns: ecology and the environment, the society of the Mekong delta, our commitment to open-source software and the do-it-yourself-as-a-team attitude that the circumstances here in Cần Thơ foster.

New subjects shall appear in time, and we will feel free to adapt to the events.