The Mekong is south east Asia's greatest river, the Mother of Water that brings life to millions of people from the paddy fields of Vietnam to the mountains of the Tibetan Plateau. In this series, Sue Perkins goes on an extraordinary journey, spanning nearly 3,000 miles, to explore lives and landscapes on the point of enormous change. Across four episodes, she travels upstream through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China, towards the Mekong's source high in the Himalayan glacier.
Sue's epic journey begins in Vietnam, on the vast Mekong Delta, where she joins Si Hei, the queen of the noodle. Starting at dawn, Si Hei and her eager new apprentice head out to sell noodle soup at the Delta's largest floating market - Cai Rang, a centre of commerce on the river that's endured for centuries. But communist Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in south east Asia, and change is coming to millions of people who live along the river. Vietnam is the world's second largest exporter of rice, so Sue moves upstream to work with farmers Hung and Tuk in the paddy fields and finds out how their lives are changing with the prospect of capitalism.
Travelling up river, Sue crosses into Cambodia and its capital Phnom Penh, which lies at the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap River. It's a place tainted by the horrific genocide carried out by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. At the S21 detention centre, Sue meets one of only two of its prisoners still alive today, Chum Mey, before visiting the infamous genocide centre, known as the Killing Fields.
To complete this first leg of her journey, Sue immerses herself in the lives of the people of Kuampang Pluk, an extraordinary village of stilted houses on the largest freshwater lake in Asia, Tonle Sap Lake.
Written by TonyMayhew on Sep 24, 2016