Running through five countries, The Mekong is one of the longest rivers in the world. But what does it look like when it hits the sea?
The End of the Road
Driving down Highway 1 towards Ba Tri in Ben Tre, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. All I knew was my smartphone said, “Go straight [for a long time].” We were heading for the mouth of the Mekong, in search of a beach, any beach, where one of the planet’s greatest rivers spills its waters into the sea. Yet, when I asked people along the way, the response was split. Either a simple shake of the head, or “go straight, straight, straight, then turn somewhere.”
After driving straight, straight, straight, turning somewhere and passing through endless paddy fields, there was still no beach. We stopped to ask a farmer, who seemed just as lost as we were. After looking in every direction, he gave us a vague response. “End on the road?” By this time we were already on a track.
On we went, driving over bump after hole. Still nothing.
Returning to the town of Ba Tri for lunch, we finally got a decent lead. “Go straight, straight, straight then turn left,” stated the waitress boasting a smirk. With no other options, and a few more stops for directions, we were zipping down the road when finally there was a big sign. In front of us sat a pretty sad looking effort for a beach. We asked a few girls on a moped if there was another beach nearby, somewhere more attractive, and once again we got the short but sweet “end of the road” answer. “Easy enough,” I thought, “lets get this over with.”
What started off as paved quickly turned into a dirt track that meandered through farms and passed over and around streams. It was stunning, and it needed to be. When we finally reached its end, about six kilometers in, the farms and streams faded into a bleak, desolate beach. The shore was a hard packed mixture of mud swept out to sea by the Mekong, and sand.
What we discovered was strange, alien, a beach from Mars. Sandflies bit at our limbs, clamshells littered the sand, roots from distant foliage breached the surface of the water. Trash was strewn about, brought in by the ocean tide.
Slowly we made our way back through the farms, stopping to enjoy one last look at the scenery before our long drive back to Saigon. — Kyle Phanroy
To see more articles in this story, please click on the links below:
The Undiscovered Coast
Undiscovered Binh Thuan
The Paradise of Ninh Thuan
The Wildness of Con Dao
The Rocks of Phu Yen
The Beaches Around Quy Nhon
The Abandoned Church
The Other Side of Halong Bay
North of Cua Lo
The Islands off Phu Quoc
Where The Mekong Hits the Sea