The Mekong River has several vibrant stories to tell. Rich in fascinating history, politics and natural beauty, there is much to know that will enrich your journey before you set sail. From nuanced observations of the history and Mekong landscape to the complexities of the Vietnam War, what better way to prepare for a trip than to delve into a book or movie based in that location. Whether it’s fact or fiction that piques your interest, if you’re heading on an Aqua Expeditions cruise, get inspired with our recommendations.
Don’t have time to read before your trip? No worries – take your book on vacation and read on while sailing on our cruise ships or enjoy one of the titles available in our onboard library. Read on!
Aqua Mekong – Books and movies based in Indochina
Here are some of our favorite award-winning films and books based in Vietnam that are definitely worth diving into:
Best for romantic reads
The Lover – By Marguerite Duras
Love a good romance? “The Lover,” based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, depicts the illicit affair between a teenage French girl and a wealthy Chinese man. The film based on this novel was nominated for an Academy Award, and we visit the Duras home on our Aqua Mekong cruises.
Best for humor
Good Morning Vietnam – By Adrian Cronauer
For comic relief mixed with drama, the film “Good Morning, Vietnam” starring the late Robin Williams will have you laughing and crying at the same time. Radio personality Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams), is sent to Vietnam to lift the spirits of the American soldiers. Cronauer’s take on war is shocking yet hilarious – until he begins to experience tragedies of war first-hand.
Best for travelogues
The River’s Tale: A Year on the Mekong – By Edward Gargan
This fascinating memoir written by former New York Times Correspondent Edward Gargan depicts his year-long journey on the Mekong River. Beautifully written, the evocative narrative is filled with nuanced observations of the history, people and landscape of Indochina.
Best political thriller
The Quiet American – By Graham Greene
An exploration of love and morality in 1950’s Indochina written by a former M16 agent, this is a gripping read that depicts French colonialism in Vietnam being uprooted by the Americans. A love triangle between Pyle, a young idealistic CIA agent sent to promote democracy and his opium-addicted friend Fowler, a cynical foreign correspondent, adds intrigue and drama. It was also adapted as two different movies, one in 1958 and another in 2002.
River of Time – By Jon Swain
Between 1970 and 1975 Jon Swain, the English journalist portrayed in David Puttnam’s film, “The Killing Fields”, lived in the region surrounding the Mekong River. This is his account of those years, chronicling what Cambodian and Vietnamese people have endured over the past 50 years.
As emotionally charged as it is factual, Swan depicts how the events of that era affected his perceptions of life and death whilst capturing the essence of the Mekong landscape.
When The War Was Over: Cambodia And The Khmer Rouge Revolution – By Elizabeth Becker
Award-winning journalist Elizabeth Becker offers up a masterful account of the horrors of Cambodia, encompassing the era of French colonialism and the revival of Cambodian nationalism. From 1950s Paris, where Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot received his political education to the killing fields, and the death of Pol Pot in 1998; this book draws from historical research and interviews with every Cambodian leader of the past quarter-century.
Best for foodies
Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam – By Kim Fay
Living in Vietnam for four years in the 1990s, Seattle native Kim Fay fell in love with the romantic landscapes, the rich culture, and the uninhibited warmth of the people. A decade later, she grew hungry for more and returned to Vietnam on an unforgettable five-week culinary journey from Hanoi to Saigon.
And don’t forget, once you’re onboard the Aqua Mekong, our guests can unwind in the private screening room with an array of films based on these exotic destinations.