THE PAVILIONS PHUKET EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Fighting to stay afloat

VIETNAM: Fixing weighing scales used to be good business on Vietnam’s floating Cai Rang market, but the last repairman on the river now makes just a few dollars a month as modernity pushes traders to land.

cultureeconomicsmarine
By AFP

Sunday 17 September 2017, 10:00AM


A vendor selling vegetables in a canal off the Song Hau river in the floating Cai Rang market in Can Tho. Photo: AFP

A vendor selling vegetables in a canal off the Song Hau river in the floating Cai Rang market in Can Tho. Photo: AFP

Surrounded by dusty old scales on his cluttered houseboat, Nguyen Van Ut says vendors are giving up their boats for better lives on terra firma where supermarkets draw the traders who once thronged the waterway.

“I don’t have many customers now. In the past, it was alright, but now many boats have left the floating market... people on vessels have switched to vehicles,” the 71-year-old said.

He got into the repairs business 30 years ago on the Can Tho river to support his surviving children after his wife and two of his sons drowned in an accident.

For a time life was good, but now he relies on handouts from his children – three of them work in nearby Can Tho city.

Once reportedly two kilometres long, the Cai Rang market is a shadow of its former self. There are about 300 boats on the water now, down from 550 in 2005, according to the local tourism office.

It has fallen victim to the economic rise of the Mekong Delta, which has rapidly developed over the last decade.

Industrial and construction sectors have created nearly 570,000 jobs, hauling many from poverty.

But people like Ut have been left behind, unable to afford a life on shore.

Even vendors making a decent wage from the tourists who flock to the market yearn for the perks of living on land: better housing, better jobs and modern amenities.

Nguyen Thi Hong Tuoi started working on the water when she was a child, just like her mother and grandmother before her.

Though she earns decent money, she doesn’t expect her daughter to carry on the family tradition.

Central Phuket

“In the future, I will let my daughter live on land so she can study and have a proper job,” the 34-year-old said, as her elderly mother rested in a hammock surrounded by sacks of tapioca on their boat.

It’s a common aspiration for young people in Vietnam, where more than half the country’s 93 million people are under the age of 30 and eager to move to fast-growing cities for work.

The origins of Cai Rang market reach back to when Vietnam and neighbouring Cambodia and Laos were occupied by the French, who readily exploited the natural resources of the colony previously called Indochina.

The Mekong Delta’s web of canals – both natural and man-made – were used to transport goods and people in the absence of a reliable road network.

There are about a dozen surviving markets in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta today, though like Cai Rang, many have shrivelled.

“The local government is trying to keep the floating markets alive to (preserve) the culture and attract more tourists,” said Nguyen Thi Huynh Phuong, a lecturer at nearby Can Tho University who has researched the market’s history.

It still functions as a wholesale market, with vendors waking each day before dawn to load boats with watermelons or radishes and advertising their products by spearing them to a bamboo pole on the bow of the ship.

But its charm also draws millions of visitors each year who buy noodles, fruit and coffee from water traders, making it a well-established pit-stop on the Mekong tourist trail.

Recognising the market as a tourism hotspot, the government designated Cai Rang as a national heritage site last year.

For vendors like Ly Hung, who has lived on the water for 26 years, visitors have helped to maintain a traditional way of life.

“Without tourism this floating market would disappear,” he said.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Civil action to be taken against shot Phuket driver’s family

Not sure how "saw" became "so", technology.. amazing....(Read More)


Indonesia teen rescued after seven weeks adrift at sea

Amazing ordeal for this kid. The fact that he agreed to be moored 125 km out to sea by himself is p...(Read More)


The Thai wives who never said ‘I do’

It feels like everything about foreigners is immigration wise very well in order. Report-report, 2 n...(Read More)


Drug blitz at full moon party

A small island, allowing up to 30,000 night party goers? On a drugs island? Are they nuts? Where pol...(Read More)


Quarter of capital’s public vans to be retired

Mhh, bit by bit I get hold on thai thinking. 1: stop with beach life guards, look later how to handl...(Read More)


Back to the drawing board for ‘Phoenix’ salvage

Obviously no calculations done to assess the submerged weight of the vessel ie. full of water. No bo...(Read More)


Life Cycling: The health benefits of a good pedalling

Whether it's to improve your health and fitness, as an environmental choice, taking up cycling c...(Read More)


Civil action to be taken against shot Phuket driver’s family

Has anyone actually seen the video, I so a pick up, that is NOT mowing down three motorcyclists wait...(Read More)


Civil action to be taken against shot Phuket driver’s family

So finally the Phuket police take drastic action that was needed to protect the general public from ...(Read More)


Phuket boat mechanic dies after getting neck caught in engine

Yeah...he slipped and got his neck caught...a likely story. Probably more like Capt fired up the eng...(Read More)


 

Melbourne Cup 2018