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The view from the riverbank


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Interactive map of key locations along the Mekong. Click on the place markers to find out more.

So we’re nearing the end of out first field campaign in Cambodia with the Stelar-S2S team and it’s begining to show. The heat and non-stop working has drained everyone. Since the last blog we have been in full fieldwork flow, moving up north to Kratie for five days and then spending another four days in Kampong Cham, before returning to Phnom Penh to polish off lose ends.

Teaching local children and members of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology how to use the CSM.

Teaching local children and members of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology how to use the CSM. Photo Courtesy of Steve Darby

We were joined for the first three days in Kratie by members of the Mekong River Commission and the Cambodian Ministry of Water Resources and Meterorology who were keen to see the techniques we were using and learn more about our work (right). It also provided us a chance to build ties and relationships with key players on the Mekong in Cambodia. They may prove highly useful contacts for when we return in late summer!

Over the past few weeks we’ve covered all of the 300 km reach of the Mekong from Kratie to Neak Leung in the south by boat (see map above). At times it was a long, drawn out process, travelling at an average speed of 8 km/hr. That was until we found a speed boat for hire and zipped down 60 km and back in the space of a morning! That was a bit of a morale boost, as by this time heads were dropping a bit and the thought of return to a snow covered UK was very tempting indeed (although whether it was the speed boat or the introduction of “Mexican Fieldwork Day” (below) which raised spirits remains to be seen!).

Brighten up a boat journey with some fake moustaches. Top tip from P.I. Darby. Photo courtesy of Julian Leyland.

Brighten up a boat journey with some fake moustaches. Top tip from P.I. Darby. Photo courtesy of Julian Leyland.

To put to bed rumours that we’ve been lounging in the sun for two weeks, here’s what we’ve managed to achieve. In total we’ve taken 38 floodplain cores from channel proximal loactions along the entire reach of the Mekong (colleagues from Exeter are planning to come out in March and complete the coring samples with a series of channel distal samples), 130 bank material samples from all along the 300 km reach, 34 bed material samples from the bed of the Mekong River, and conducted approximately 300 Cohesive Strength Meter samples at key locations along the river. So thats ~500 samples over 17 days, approximately 30 samples a day! That’s a fairly productive two weeks in my book.


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