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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Floating Market on the Mekong Delta

Here's the thing about Vietnam, it still feels authentic. I mean it doesn't feel prettied up for tourists. You can easily get a view of the real workings of the country and see how things get done. It's exciting and invigorating and sometimes gritty.

In Saigon I visited several supermarkets but none of them seemed that bustling. Daily grocery shopping is still done at traditional covered markets and in the side streets that surround them. It is also done in the street. Everywhere you find people, you find women selling fruit from baskets. But how does the produce get there? Not from a distribution warehouse, but from the fields, down rivers, by boat.

Near Can Tho on the Mekong Delta we visited a floating market early in the morning. Unlike the colorful floating markets in Thailand this was a market for the locals only. We were just observers catching glimpses of commerce and life on the river. By checking the sign posts--literally posts with some fruit or vegetable attached, you could see what was for sale. Most of what they were selling was below deck but as deals were made you could see cabbages or pineapples flying through the air. Larger boats sold to smaller boats, big basketfuls at a time. Everyone seems to be an entrepreneur and I wondered what the rest of the journey might be like for a boatload of bananas...