The floating markets
Can Tho Travel Blog› entry 171 of 254 › view all entries
As we surfaced from the guesthouse at 5.30am the first fingers of light were just beginning to streak a still dark sky. The local streets were a hive of activity, shops and vendors already doing a roaring trade. We met our boatman, Han, and we were loaded up with bread, bananas and mugs of tea and coffee. A short boat ride away and we arrived at his house to watch the sunrise. We were in luck - a big red sun slowly rose from behind trees across the water, the distinctive palm trees silhouetted against the light.
Despite it being early, the rivers and waterways were teeming with boats of all sizes and shapes, intent on doing business. Huge wooden pot- bellied boats, laden with earth, sand, stone or grain, chugged slowly by, sunk low in the water.
We headed for the floating market at Cai Rang, just a few kilometers from Can Tho. Large boats anchored in position were piled with cabbages, onions, melons and various other fruits and vegetables. Small skiffs bobbed about in between, stopping here and there to do some purchasing. We didn't linger long, and were soon off to the next market, Phong Dien, much further down the river.
We had told Han we wanted to buy a Jack Fruit, but there were none on the floating market so we went into one of the nearby land markets where he showed us around explaining what various fruits were, we bought a couple of things then went for a beer with him - at this point it felt like lunchtime but was only actually 9.
We then had a tour of a few of the thousands of smaller waterways and canals that make up the Mekong Delta. The water dictates people's lives here - they wash and bathe in it, base their livelihoods on it, and throw their rubbish in it. It also gives rise to the lush vegetation found here that enables a multitude of things to be grown. We were able to see people's homes built on stilts above the water and wave to the children returning from school on their bicycles.
Then it was back to Han's house where his wife cooked us lunch, a feast of fish, tofu, noodles, salad and banana wine. Diane was the only one who noticed Han eat a fish eyeball, picking it out deftly with his chopsticks. She wished she hadn't. After many a "Yo!" (Vietnamese for 'cheers') accompanying our shots of banana wine, we were returned to Can Tho and a much needed siesta.