Cairang Floating Market
Can Tho, Ninh Kiều, Cần Thơ, Vietnam
Buying and selling on the riverJust outside the village of Can Tho farmers afloat their low narrow boats carrying bags of rice and fruit jostle with one another, paddling up and down the silty, muddy tidal waters. Larger boats, powered by motor engines emitting big black smoke buy and sell, the goods displayed on the roof showing what they want to buy whilst their wares are sold on the main deck. Bars buzz along, coming up to the side of the boat to sell their sweet sweet coffee. The Cairang floating market is one of only many that operates on the tributaries of the vast Mekong River that is the lifeblood of Vietnamese trade, travel and food. Here they buy and sell, some taking their purchased produce further upstream to trade again and again, prices rising as the cities come into sight, a constantly building economy. Along the flooded plains of the river crops grow in abundance and so there are sacks of rice freshly harvested, piles of juicy pineapple, and the delicious jack fruit, its large pockets of orange flesh tasting like not quite dried mango, a satisfying chew offsetting the powerful sweetness. Big canopies shield the fruit and vegetables from the harsh sun that beats down as dry season gets fully underway, the myriad materials, angles and elements use to build these floating shops, houses and vehicles and their constant movement means that the feel and environment is as organic and evolving as the goods. A mercantile hub literally coming out of the same soil and water as the produce they sell.