Floating markets originated during French colonial times in the 19th century. The French put a tax on land markets so the Vietnamese opened markets in the river. There used to be more floating markets. We are seeing the largest remaining one called Cai Rang floating market.
We took a boat ride from the Can Tho city center. They used to row, but now motors are used. There are water hyacinth floating in waterways. We saw many types of houses along the river such as the stilt house. Others are half on land and half on the water.
The best time to view the floating markets is by 7am, about when we arrived. Big boats come from different regions and stay for about 5 weeks. Smaller local boats come to buy from these wholesalers. While on the waterway, a small boat comes alongside our boat. What a surprise! She ties on and is like a floating convenience store offering Cokes, juices, and even noodle soup. Then another boat comes on the other side. How fun! It was like a drive through in reverse.
Eyes painted on the bow of the boat originated during the days of crocodiles. The boat looked larger than the crocodile and would scare him away. Now it is customary for these boats to have eyes.
Most boats have these eyes, but one boat did not. Tam said that it was not from around here!! Easy way to spot an intruder!!
The letter and number on the side of the boat indicate the province in the Mekong Delta from which the boat and its goods come.
Gas stations are along the river for the motorboats.
Bamboo poles advertise what the boat has onboard and is selling. This is smart and eco-friendly advertising. The one on the right must be like Walmart as it is advertising everything.
Tam told me about the cajeput tree. He was surprised that I was not familiar with it. Its oil is used for many purposes especially for the skin. The wood is used for stilts but only lasts about five years. Concrete is taking its place. I looked it up online. We call it tea tree oil. He said that they have a tea tree, but it is different. It is good that all living things have a Latin genus and species name instead of using different regional names! Sabadilla is another plant that I don’t know. It is sweet like an apple.
The wholesale boats have a kitchen and bathroom on the back, storage of goods in the middle, and living is in the front. We boarded a boat selling pineapple. They put chili pepper on it. No thanks. Fresh pineapple is so delicious…but where’s my floss??
We hear that the floating markets in Thailand are now just for show. They are small boats for tourism.
We had the opportunity to make rice noodles at a large scale noodle factory.
Rice noodle batter consists of 70% rice powder and 30% tapioca powder which is more expensive.
Rice paper is made from 100 percent rice powder.
We have made these before, but this is a large scale operation. The fire on the right hand side is stoked by the rice husks.
The noodles are placed on bamboo mats.
After the noodles are placed on a mat, the mat is taken outside in the sun to dry for four hours.
Then they are fed into a noodle cutting machine.
One can fry these rice noodles in sunflower oil for a crispy snack. They were crunchy like potato chips.
This factory makes 1,100 pounds per day. At sixty cents per pound the daily revenue is about $660.
We went on a fun bike ride through the Mekong delta area.
Some of the bridges looked a little iffy.
Our destination is the Heritage tree.
This tree is HUGE. They don’t even know where the origin is.
During the Vietnam War, the guerilla fighters of the Viet Cong lived in here.
When we returned our bikes, it was time for a snack. Rob and I agreed to try the BBQ rat. Tam said that it was tasty.
I thought that it would be like a chicken nugget so I popped it in my mouth. It was full of crunchy bones. I spent most of my time picking out the bones. It tasted like a cross between pork and chicken. Not bad!!
We had a hot pot lunch. It kind of looked like fondue but one puts all the meat into the pot, then adds a huge basket of various greens.
Afterwards, we had some of these “chicken legs” for dessert. They were like chewy donuts.
Typically, lunch is at 11:00 followed by a nap from 11:30 to 1:00.
This is certainly a custom that Rob will incorporate into his post-retirement routine.
Parting Suggestions from our Tour Operators:
America has its Batman and Spiderman. They have Coconut Man. Be forewarned that he will charge money to take a picture with him.
For safety take a photo of your taxi complete with #.
Do not take a selfie on the street. Someone might grab the camera out of your hand.
Sense Market is an underground market that one should visit.
Do not go to District 4 after dark as it is not safe. It is known for the mafia.
Vietnamese Backpacker Hostel has an amazing rooftop bar that the young will enjoy. It is crazy good fun!
We were waiting for our ride back to our hotel and a darling young lady at the tour agency said, “Are you staying at the Con teen a towel?” After a moment of contemplation, I said, “Yes”. It was her way to pronounce Continental.
Our bus was late due to rush hour traffic, and then it took a long time to get to our hotel. If the roads are jammed, motorbikes take to the sidewalks in droves!
We returned to the Continental, and they gave us an upgrade to a family suite. It was like two large hotel rooms combined.
I convinced Rob that we should get massages as our hotel was running a special for 90-minute or two-hour massages. We opted for the 90-minute because we thought that was enough time to hit all the muscle groups. Each massage cost $17!