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Floating Markets in South-West Vietnam

 

 It is called Mekong Delta “floating market” for an obvious reason. On a vast and boundless water surface, hundreds of boats, big and small, gather together and create a floating place for trading activities. The market is on all day, but is most spirited in the early morning. Boats of different sizes and shapes thread their way along the waterway in an atmosphere of truly high-spirited, fun filled, yet businesslike purchasing and bargaining, sellers and buyers bellowing over the noisy boat engines.
 
From the bow of each boat is attached a bamboo pole and a sample of the goods being sold from each boat is tied to the pole, making it easy for buyers to find what they’re in need of. The poles are also of different sizes, standing up straight or bending over, which makes up an interesting view and is a really unique form of advertising.
 
The boats are loaded full with merchandise, most noticeably fruit of the current crop such as rambutan, mango, tangerine, pomelo, water melon, mangosteen, durian, etc. Products of the watery area are also in abundance, such as fish, tortoise, snake, crab, shrimp, field bird, or fresh vegetables and water lily. The sellers and buyers often agree upon the price very quickly without much of bargaining, because everyone is aware of the going prices of all products. The sellers are mostly farmers who are honest and never overcharge for their products.
 
Together with trading boats, there are smaller boats, each of which supplies a specific service such as fast-food and drinks, haircuts, tailoring, sewing, etc. Such a panoramic picture is interesting and full of the local cultural imprint. Among the long-standing and famous floating markets in the region are Phung Hiep-Nga Bay, Phong Dien, Cai Rang and Cai Be, with the Phung Hiep-Nga Bay Market being the biggest. Established in 1915 in the Cuu Long River delta, the Phung Hiep, or Nga Bay (seven turnings) Market is at the convergence of seven river branches with such ordinary names as Cai Con, Bung Tau, Mang Ca, Soc Trang, Lai Hieu, Xeo Mon and Xeo Dong. From this market, the market goers continue to the Snake Market, which is on land, where they may be invited to partake in a glass of snake wine, watch magic snake performances, or buy snakes, tortoise, bird, squirrel, varan, etc. Normally the farmers go to the floating market to sell products and return home in daytime, but many high quantity merchants stay at the market for several days on end so as to buy enough goods to load their boat. Thus merchants’ boats also serve as a mobile home, and so are much bigger than the boats of the local farmers. Sometimes, there are boats crossing over the market and they stay overnight to wait for the high tide, thus making the Nga Bay more bustling all day and night.

At night, especially during bright, moonlit nights, some boats are grafted together to make a large space for their owners to socialize while some “amateur” artists-farmers sing and play music. In the light of the moon the singing and music echo across the water so melancholically while the half-drunk farmers enjoy drinking their wine and watching the view around them. To the honest, hard working and romantic people in the watery western areas of Southern Vietnam, such moments are surely unforgettable memories of their life.
 
(Source: Vietnam Pictorial)
 
 
 
 

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