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Frenchman masters the Mekong

French adventurer Remi Camus triumphantly holds up his riverboard
French adventurer Remi Camus triumphantly holds up his riverboard on Tuesday in Vietnam at the end of his 4,400km journey down the Mekong River. Photo Supplied

Frenchman masters the Mekong

French solo adventurer Remi Camus, who set out in October last year on an incredible 4,400-kilometre riverboarding expedition down the Mekong River from its origin in Tibet, successfully completed his mission on Tuesday in Vietnam, where this amazing river flowing through six countries joins the South China Sea.

The 28-year-old began his final 300-kilometre push from Phnom Penh on March 28 after spending a few days receiving medical attention for painful rashes on his legs caused by polluted water.

By the time he sighted the passport and visa checkpoint in Vietnam after covering nearly 100 kilometre, his legs buckled up again with some flesh from his right foot missing as he put it in an email to the Post on April 1.

He had to stop for a while, but his determination got the better of the intense pain, despite having to swim against slow water and then the sea tides.

“It all ended well for me. I am sitting facing the South China Sea and my mission is over. I thank everyone who supported me,” Camus told the Post hours after getting out of the salty water on April 15.

“I wish to thank all the media outlets in France, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam for covering this adventure, which I undertook to highlight the geographical significance of the Mekong River, which touches the lives of 70 million people.

“A special thanks to people like Josh Galt, Albin Roux and Hoan Kieu Roux for their help and support until the very end,” added Camus. Galt, who has been in Phnom Penh since December last, is one of the world’s most experienced riverboarders. The two met had met last May at the French Slalom Championship for Hydrospeed, as riverboarding is called in France. They were also together while swimming the rapids in Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) in Laos.

Galt kept Camus company all along the route from Phnom Penh to the finish in Vietnam.

Camus had first caught the attention of the world when he ran solo across the Australian continent in support of his charity organisation Expedition Terre Inconnue, whose motto is to bring clean and safe water to every person on Earth.

The Frenchman’s only faithful companion on the lonely stretches of water in Asia was a specially-built riverboard, which also held in its small pockets his daily needs.

His first shocker during this long and arduous journey was the huge rapids in deep inaccessible gorges in China. But more devastating than the challenges nature threw at him, was the bizarre situation he had to contend with in Laos when authorities detained him for over a month, accusing him of being a spy who had entered the country illegally.

Camus has a clear vision of what he has to do as a follow-up now that he has accomplished this rare feat.

“I have to meet the people who have supported me through all this. With the first-hand knowledge I have, we need to make people and governments aware of the need to clean up the Mekong and make lives better for people who are depending on this great source of life,” he said.

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