We took a coach from Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Be at midnight after an exciting talk about floating markets where boats full of fruits, vegetables and other goods gather and sellers on board their boats noisily talking in the early morning. After an hour-long trip, we headed for Cai Be wharf. The whole street was quiet but there were some dogs barking in a distance. We took a motorbike taxi after a short walk to get to Cai Be wharf.
It was 2am but food, drink and fruit vendors could be seen along the river. We enjoyed a hot bowl of banh canh (rice noodle soup served with shrimp, pork and crab) and a glass of smoothies.
Cai Be River looked beautiful even though it was raining then. While waiting for the rain to stop, we rented a small boat to tour the river. The boatman told us stories about the floating market and changes in the area over time. He stopped next to a huge row of water hyacinth to pick the plant to make a salad with fish sauce.
While my friends were busy talking to the boatman, I enjoyed watching boats with their prows painted in red and blue and eyes of noses of sea monsters. The floating market is not as crowded as it was in the past and there are more modern boats.
Our next destination was a fruit garden on an islet. The owner of this garden served what we thought were the best banh xeo (Vietnamese rice pancakes fried with shrimp, pork and sprouts).
After the boat tour, we went to craft villages where coconut and green rice sweets are made.
After 24 hours in the area, we got back to the river bank’s market to have lunch under the rain and leisurely watched a boisterous scene of boats carrying coconut and fabric and gradually fell into sleep with a good memory of the Mekong Delta.