By Dominique Nault
The Mekong Delta is one of the most fertile agricultural lands in Vietnam because of the nutrient rich soil that is brought down from Tibet. Most of the residents in the delta are farmers and when I drove in between the city streets to meet with my home stay family I noticed almost every house had a garden that grew numerous fruits and vegetables. There are many markets or street vendors trying to sell their produce so one of the ways to sell items are on boats at 4am on the Mekong River.
In Can Tho city you can enjoy the sunrise on the Mekong River while watching the river come to life with farmers trying to sell their produce on small boats. Although the sun has not yet come up, the heat still lingers from the previous day and humid air makes wearing a cotton shirt difficult. To locals the weather was a perfect time to sell their produce that they spent harvesting in the rainy season. The floating market could potentially bring in 10 million dong ($440 USD) every month to the local economy.
As we gathered on the boat I noticed that there were other foreigners that woke up early to see the floating market. I was surprised to see so many tourists but was also excited because I believe that Vietnam is a beautiful place that everyone should explore. When we moved up the river, a smaller boat latched itself on us and it began to feel like a pirate movie and were about to take over our ship.
In the Mekong Delta, many different plants and species rely on the river because of its capacity to provide biodiversity and nutrients. Vietnam is a beautiful landscape that can grow a pleather of different fruits and vegetables and seeing them stacked up on boats was memorizing and I forgot that we were there to purchase from the locals.
I got a completely different perspective when I stayed with a local family that lived in the Mekong Delta for generations. They stated that the floating market used to be so huge that police would have to tell some farmers in boats to pull to the side and wait until more boats passed. Due to the development in Vietnam the roads are now used to transport the produce rather than the river. Although the floating market was still beautiful and interesting, I would have really loved to see that many boats in the middle of the river.
The floating market was definitely a unique experience that people need to visit soon otherwise I am not sure how it will look in the next couple years due to the development. Any kind of infrastructure in a developing country is a great but there is also some uniqueness that the country will lose, and they need to find a balance with preserving some of the features such as the floating market. Riding a boat along the Mekong River and purchasing things such as souvenirs or fruits and pho while the sun rises is something that a lot of tourists and locals will appreciate.