When I come to look back on this trip, some of my best memories will be from Chau Doc. It’s a riverside town, sitting on the banks of the Bassac – also known as the Hau – river, a branch of the Mekong (which gets very complicated round these parts). Many families depend on fishing and river trade for their livelihoods, and whole communities live in stilt houses that hover perilously over the water. These neighbourhoods look ramshackle and fragile from a distance, and life here is certainly far from luxurious, but there’s a tangible sense of community in these narrow alleyways. I guess that you have to get along with your neighbours when you live so close together, and the climate obliges you to spend much of your time outdoors. Hammocks are suspended in porches, a mirror image of their opposite neighbours, just feet away. The exterior walls are made of corrugated metal, but the homes inside are spotless and the people houseproud.
The alleyways themselves are built on stilts and sway slightly underfoot.
Loitering at the dry land end of one of these alleyways, camera in hand, I suddenly found myself with a new friend. The nice man above gestured for me to follow him. He showed me his home, and introduced me to his neighbours. The camera creates wonderful experiences for me sometimes.