The mentioning of “Amazon” reminds me of a river’s length, volume, and environmental plight, not online shopping or stock price. The Amazon is Planet Earth’s most famous body of water. Many of us studied about the Mississippi and the Nile in World History 101, and more and more of us cruised the Yangtze after the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. If I am asked to name another river after the Amazon for its significance and prominence, the Mekong will be my answer.
Consisting of four one-hour episodes, the 2014 BBC documentary The Mekong River with Sue Perkins records the hostess’ observations and interactions with those who have lived and breathed the 2,700-mile Mekong. Ms. Perkins’s journey reached China in the final installment. After participating in the daily water-splashing festival at a Yunnan Province’s cultural center, Ms. Perkins travelled further north to tour an immense pu-erh tea plantation. I enjoyed watching the segment during which the gregarious tea grower encouraged Ms. Perkins to climb the 800-year-old tea bush. What is even more unusual than picking tea leaves from a tall treetop is seeing the proprietor’s glass-clad villa amid verdant countryside. I was an uncomfortable viewer when Ms. Perkins blatantly inquired the cost to build such a structure in a most rapid-growing economy, especially when they were sipping tea of the highest grade.
In China, the upper Mekong is called Lancang River, which was briefly mentioned in my August Yunnan: A Board Game post.
Image 1 provided by author.