Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi
October 29–November 12, 2015 (14 nights)
For more information on this trip please contact Literary Traveler.
The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb and selected modern Cambodian fiction
Mekong Navigator, Park Hyatt Saigon, and Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi
“To write history without putting any water in it is to leave out a large part of the story. Human experience has not been so dry as that” writes Donald Worster in his 1985 book Rivers of Empire. In Cambodia and Vietnam, the Mekong River has shaped the culture of the region and the lives of the millions who have lived along its banks and deltas. Farther north in Hanoi, where our trip concludes, the Red River also winds its way through a history that, like the water itself, can be a force of both nourishment and devastation.
These two rivers will be our guides as we explore the incredible richness of Cambodia and Vietnam. Through them, we will try to better understand the role of history in this part of Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, a prime minister once urged the country to “dig a hole and bury the past in it” following the end of the Khmer Rouge regime. In contemporary Vietnam, where history has so often been used as a political tool, many regard it with a wary eye. Yet in both countries writers, intellectuals, and others are working to help people reclaim their history as they come to terms with an often traumatic past.
We will also plunge into the liveliness and vitality of the region as we visit exquisite temples; sample pho, fish amok, and many other culinary delights; take in the busy cities and majestic scenery; and talk with Cambodians and Vietnamese about their lives, work, and visions for the future.
Our first reading, The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb, tells the story of three characters – an elderly pho seller who had been part of an underground art movement in the 1950s, a young tour guide, and a Vietnamese-American searching for memories of her father, who had been part of the same movement – whose lives become intertwined as they make sense of Vietnam’s past and future. Other readings will include contemporary Cambodian fiction. A literary scene that included traditional tales and myths along with a flourishing of novels and short stories in the first half of the 20th century was all but destroyed under the Khmer Rouge. It is slowly being rebuilt, and exciting new writers have emerged.
Along the Mighty Mekong will be a relaxing yet invigorating way to discover a vibrant and beautiful part of Southeast Asia.
Click here for the itinerary and terms and conditions.
Melanie Blake is a writer and editor who developed a deep interest in fiction from Asia during a three-year stint in India. She has canoed, kayaked, sailed, trekked and cycled down or along rivers ranging from the Hudson to the Dordogne to the Indus.
From US$5595 per person based on selected cabin (approximate)
Single supplement: 1.5 times cabin price
Taxes and gratuities (per person): US$375
Fee includes readings, accommodation, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, and admissions.