Captain Hai, nice to meet you on this beautiful Mekong ship. Could you briefly please introduce yourself?

My full Vietnamese name is Truong Phu Hai, I am the Captain of the Jayavarman. My home is My Tho, which is the port of entry to the Mekong Delta and the city where our cruises depart from in Vietnam. I live there with my lovely wife and two kids.


What is your job the captain of this vessel?

The most obvious answer to this question is that I navigate the ship. However, people often do not realize how much more there is to it. Unlike sea navigation, rivers are often much more difficult to maneuver on. There are many reasons for this, first of which is that evidently the path is much more narrow, second is the shifting currents, or what I like to call “the mood” of the river. The stream and the power is never the same for the Mekong and I always need to adapt to it.  The third is that the river has more traffic so I need to be very vigilant of my trajectory.

Other than this “technical” side of being a Captain there is of course the human factor to consider as I have to manage the crew. I admit that it sometimes feels like I’m taking care of children [He laughs]. But after working with them for 5 years they became like my second family.


Since when do you work as a Captain for Heritage Line and why?

My father before me was the captain of his own ship on the Mekong and transporting merchandise. So naturally at 14 years old I knew that the life of a mariner was my future. My father never navigated such a big ship and I know that if he saw me in the Jayavarman today he would be very proud of me.


What do you like most about your work?

One of the problems that all mariners and Captains encounter is their split life between their family and their work onboard. Thankfully, with the current itinerary and rotation that I have, I get to come back to my family very often so I can balance my life better than most Captains. I know that I’m very lucky for that.

Something in my work that I really like is the sensation that I get when navigating the Mekong. This river can be very dominant and often its current may change in unpredictable ways, but despite that I can feel a sensation of flow when I am deeply concentrated. And at the end of the day when we dock for an excursion and I can finally rest it’s always very rewarding.


What does the Mekong river mean to you?

The Mekong has really become an old friend to me as I went back and forth on it so many times. This wasn’t always the case as I remember in my younger days when I was training to become a mariner I was very impressionable. Back then the Mekong seemed like this impossible beast to tame but now it has become a reassuring part of my life



Do you have any secrets or special stories to tell us about the Mekong?

The Mekong is very ancient and goes through so many regions of Asia that almost all of them have their own stories, rumors and legends about the Mekong. What is the most curious is that these stories always depict this river as something that has its own free will much like a person. They vary a lot between them depending on the folklore. Some are comic, some are fascinating and some can be terrifying but they usually say more about the inhabitants who tell story than the Mekong itself.


Any favorite destination along the Mekong?

I have a preference for Kampong Cham. I always like docking there because it such a charming city with its traditional colonial building that really gives a nice feel to the place.


What would you say is the highlight of the cruise program?

Of course the highlight of the cruise is the Jayavarman itself because it has so many amenities that make it such a comfortable place. In the end I believe that there is no better feeling for our guest than to just kick back and enjoy the ride.


More information on our Mekong journeys here.