Where’s your favorite market?

Cai rang floating market, Can Tho Vietnam

The night market in Taiwan? The markets in Bangkok? Seattle’s Pike’s Market? Santa Monica’s farmer’s market? Your local Whole Foods? Mine is the Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho, in the heart of the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. One visit to this market will blow away any Western notions of a traditional marketplace with clean organized aisles. A “biological treasure trove,” the Mekong river and its tributaries form the life blood for the local farmers and inhabitants. Supplying the rich fertile soil for agriculture, the rivers of the delta also serves as the inhabitants homes, roads, highways, and meeting places.

You’ll have to wake up early to enjoy the full spectacle. I mean 4 am early. Market hours are typically 4 am to 9 am. My first time there, we hired one of the many people at the docks with boats to ferry us around. Some ferries are motorized, some still use oars. I love watching the symmetry and effortless motion of the of the locals so I opted for non-motorized boats.

As the sun rises on the horizon, so do the locals, ferrying boats loaded with fruits and vegetables ready to trade and sell. Durian, jackfruit, rambutan, longan, and my favorite mangosteens….it’s all here. Cai Rang is mainly a wholesale market, but if you want something just pull your boat up and they’ll sell it by the pound. It’s hard to hear on the river with the rolling waves and motor boats so each boat has a large stick, called “cay beo”, from which the sellers hang their products, called “treo beo.” Plus, it’s easier to see what they’re selling from afar. A boat sells yam in photo above.

Cai rang floating market, Can Tho Vietnam

Hungry for breakfast? Unlike deli and coffee counters, there are plenty of food vendors gliding and weaving around like water bugs, selling everything from cafe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee), banh mi, and pho. Go ahead, eat right on your boat and continue to shop around. The vendor will eventually find you and take her bowls and chopsticks back…

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6 Responses to “Where’s your favorite market?”

  1. 1

    Tara — May 26, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

    Beautiful photos. Do you mind if I ask what kind of camera was used?

  2. 2

    Ravenous Couple — May 27, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

    Hey Tara, Great blog and reviews! We’re both sorta new to LA so still trying to figure out the restaurant scene ourselves. We use Canon digital rebel XT.

  3. 3

    Cookin' Canuck — May 28, 2009 @ 3:19 am

    My favorite market? I think I’d have to say the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, Canada. Picture row upon row of fresh produce, freshly made pasta, beautiful sausages…I could go on and on.

  4. 4

    Ravenous Couple — May 31, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

    Cookin' Canuck: How can we forget Granville Island public market…loved going there when living in Seattle.

  5. 5

    Jean Marie — July 3, 2009 @ 2:01 am

    Twice a week in Frankfurt, Germany, as well as in Paris, there were markets outdoors. They had no name for them, they just were there as part of the local custom. I interpreted this as meaning that there were market stall in all the walking streets in all the towns of Europe. Maybe not. But a great practice. I am now happy that I live in LA and can go to an outdoor market any day of the week. : )

  6. 6

    Chao Ca Vietnamese Fish Porridge Congee — November 11, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    [...] There are many different versions of cháo, but the most common are cháo gà (chicken), cháo lòng (pig offal/innards), and cháo cá (fish). Just as there are many varieties, there are just as many ways to make cháo. Some make a plan plain thick bland porridge and then add different types of broth and toppings. We present a very traditional southern way of making cháo cá made famous in the Mekong delta region, known for its abudance of fish and sea life and floating markets. [...]

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