Monday, January 21, 2013

Life on the River: Can Tho and the Floating Market

Can Tho is the "Great City of the West", the red-raw beating heart of the dust-choked, somnambulant Mekong Delta. Residents once boasted of having the whitest rice and the freshest water in all of Vietnam and a recent trip to Can Tho found us embracing life on the river, bobbing up and down one early morning on a boat ride to the floating market. 

A floating gas station...

Timber for housing foundations and construction scaffolding.

Fishing by the river.  Many of the major ports in the Delta (especially Soc Trang) once had a thriving Chinese population before the expulsions of 1976-77.

A hot bowl of soup to start the day.

Foreign direct investment (which still makes up a huge proportion of Vietnam's economy) has led to the construction of huge new bridges over the Mekong and has eased the traveler's burden.  The trip from HCMC to Can Tho now only takes about four hours by land. 

Smaller, personal boats buy their harvest from huge wholesalers (like the one above with an entire boatload of watermelons).  The re-sellers then take their diverse bounty down the smaller canals to sell to individual homes along the riverside.

The wholesalers flaunt their wares by tying an example to a long bamboo rod.  The boat below is flying the great flag of pumpkins!


The effervescent and knowledgeable university-student tour guides and the boat-gal.

The blue door leads to nirvana.

By mid-morning, the sun is at its height and the river empties as people head to shade and their much-deserved nap.

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