When it comes to floating markets, people will immediately think of the peaceful Mekong Delta where southerners attach their rustic lives to boats and waterways.
But in a noisy and dynamic Saigon, there are still some floating markets existing along Binh Dong Wharf and Tran Van Kieu Wharf in District 8, and Lo Gom Wharf in District 6.
Similar to the Mekong Delta region, the products for sale at these markets are not delicacies and luxury items but everyday products. However, the boats at the city’s floating markets do not move around to find customers as at Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho City or Cai Be floating market in Tien Giang Province. They stay put to sell products transported from Mekong Delta provinces to city dealers and customers.
Among the city’s floating markets, the most bustling one is the fruit market at Tran Van Kieu Wharf. Dozens of boats gather at the wharf selling typical fruits of the delta such as banana, coconut, orange and pomelo.
Ba Le, a 56-year-old trader from the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, says she has attached her life to the boat, which is also her home, for more than 10 years, and most traders at this floating market have done the job for almost half of their lives.
“Th is boat belongs to Tai and his wife. Coming from Vinh Long Province, the couple has spent almost 20 years at the floating market,” Le says, pointing at a boat full of coconuts sailing next to her boat.
Fruits sold at Tran Van Kieu floating market mostly come from farming households in the delta. Chien, another trader from Ben Tre Province, says he and his wife have been selling dried coconuts and bananas from Ben Tre for 17 years and mostly spending their time on board the boat.
Like many other floating market vendors, Chien equips his boat with a cassette/radio player, and a television set. Some even have motorbikes on board their boats so that they can use them to move around, he says.
Traders at Tran Van Kieu Wharf are mostly from Vinh Long, An Giang and Tien Giang, which have the largest fruit farms in the southern region.
They mostly supply their products for dealers at An Dong and Cho Lon markets, and small retailers. If buyers look for high-quality fruits at reasonable prices, this market can be a reliable source.
No one can tell how long these floating markets can last but at the moment, they still do good business and give a peaceful and rustic touch to the modern city.