The Ha Tien Market
Ha Tien Travel Blog› entry 35 of 126 › view all entries
After a breakfast of Vietnamese coffee and a milder tea, I browsed the nearby market to see how it compared to those in Cambodia. Most noticeably, it didn't seem as cluttered with merchandise or shoppers. Venders, too, seemed much more open to having their photos taken; young ones giggled, elders smiled, and some even gestured posing invitations. There seemed to be a wider variety of fish - well different anyway, since I wouldn't know one from another. Miniature stingray-looking creatures and colorful spiraled sea shells complete with their sluggish occupants caught my eye. Tiger shrimp seemed much larger than those across the border. Two women sorted one catch which included a variety of small fish and snake-like eels.
A long line of fishing boats moored three abreast along a concrete dock behind the market on the Ha Tien River. The area bustled with activity. Daily catches were being off-loaded and hauled away in wheeled carts or shoulder-slung baskets. One young crew gestured me aboard as they squatted on deck eating a morning meal of rice and who knows what - probably fish. I declined their meal offer. I also passed on their bid to - what I translated to be - have a good time with the only female on board. It was far too early into my Vietnam stay to risk scurvy or a dose of the clap. I did accept a small glass of moonshine dipped from their three-gallon plastic cooler and sipped the strong and potent whiskey-like rice wine slowly to savor the onboard visit.
Further along the waterfront, outdoor venders under plastic blue-tarp canopies displayed more goods and supplies like burlap sacks of spices, bottled sauces, packaged food products, assorted convenience items, and shoes or clothing. At two of the stalls, feathers flew as live chickens, roosters, and ducks were weighed on scales and placed into their buyer's bamboo carrying baskets. More squid and other fish dried in the morning sun.
Another large building seemed to house mostly industrial supplies like anchors, hand tools, hardware, machine parts, and farming tools. Altogether, the Ha Tien Market took up about three city blocks - all along the waterfront. One of the dozen or more eateries near the outdoor venders provided a fine meal of Vietnamese noodles with vegetables and chicken - Pho Ga - and killed the after-taste of the grog that I sampled on the boat.