Monday, April 1, 2013

The Floating Markets of Can Tho

Located part way between Ha Tien and Ho Chi Minh City, which act as bookends to the fan created by the Mekong Delta, is the Delta's largest city and busiest port - Can Tho.

Sunrise over the Mekong.

The last city to fall to the North Vietnamese army (on May 1st 1975, the day after the fall of Saigon), Can Tho is home to the (sadly mostly Vietnamese language) Ho Chi Minh museum, which depicts the valiant struggle by the local peoples in cooperation with the National Liberation Front  (Viet Cong) to win their freedom and reunify the country. Definitely interesting to see.

More famously, Can Tho is home to the Delta's largest floating markets at Cai Rong and Phong Dien - both of which get their start at the bright and early hour of 4:30am so that the purchasers of produce have time to boat their wares up to Ho Chi Minh City in time for the morning markets there. The action begins to wind down quite early, with action becoming increasingly more local and less frenzied as the sun rises, and dwindling completely by 9am.

The late(ish) morning action at Cai Rong

It's possible to either rent a boat and driver or join a tour from the pier in Can Tho in order to get a peek - I definitely reccomend the former, but be prepared to bargain. I got it down to ten dollars to have a boat take me out to Cai Rong for 4:30am and then wend me back gently through farm lined canals en route home. I also tipped the lovely lady who rowed me out (with a sprained ankle!) an extra five for making her take me out rather earlier than most tourists do and for treating me to snacks - I also saw some others buy their boaters breakfast as a thank you.

A banana and coconut palm lined canal off the Mekong.

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