The golden glimmering sun peeked through our window curtains; the feeling of waking up to another day of colorful adventures greeted us a lovely morning. After a quick Viet breakfast of spring rolls and coffee, we left for Cai Rang’s floating market at 7:30 – not so early to see the morning market rumble contrary to what I thought. And a day of contraries begin.
As we rode a sampan in one of Can Tho’s riverbank along a hidden alley, I can only imagine colorful wooden beds painting the chocolate Mekong river into a fruity canvass – just like the souvenir from Thailand displayed in a shelf back home. Just ten minutes of cruising the river, the gaudy canvass in my head turned grey. It was as if the fog slowly revealed silhouettes of what war has left on the lonely river. Each boat had a pole with a fruit hanging on top – for vendors it is a banner, but to the forlorn scene it is but a white flag. Boats selling beverages began approaching our tourist sampan. I got ready to take a photo of my friends with a vendor wearing a conical leaf hat nón lá – 1… 2… splash! goes the brown river water as the vendor hooks up her boat to ours. My friends froze in shock – and a little water, then we all started laughing. The grey imagery faded as we got closer to the floating market vendors.
We stopped by a timber shack drifting along with all the other sampans. The shack was a little market with seasoned weighing scales and foot-high plastic chairs arranged in topsy-turvy. Vendors kept smiling while customers kept haggling. Some of us bought fruits and our sampan continued coasting. And as we did, the sweet old ladies bà cụ called out to us in words we could not understand – probably asking us to buy some of their vegetables and carefully prepared cuisine. But we can’t say for sure, nor will the next batches of tourists years later.
Because we were just visitors who spent a little over 30 minutes in that market, we didn’t really understand a thing about Cai Rang. As we went past the last vendor boat in sight, a young Vietnamese boy spoke articulately and said “banana” in clear American accent.
Related Itinerary: Saigon and Mekong in 4 Days
Photostream: Cai Rang Floating Market